Nine local World War II veterans flew to Washington, D.C., last Sunday to visit the monument on the National Mall dedicated to veterans of the war.
The trip was organized by Honor Flight Long Island, a nonprofit founded in 2004 that has flown nearly a quarter of a million American veterans to the nation’s capital at no cost to them. The organization was created by a veteran who wanted to send his brothers and sisters in arms to see for themselves the memorial dedicated to them for their service.
HFLI made its latest flight from Long Island MacArthur Airport, in Ronkonkoma, to Baltimore/Washington International Airport early Sunday, with its nine special passengers looking forward to visiting the World War II memorial as well as the Iwo Jima Memorial, and attending a changing of the guard and a special wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
“I’m looking forward to the whole day,” 100-year-old Eleanor Rizutto, of Franklin Square, one of the guests of honor, said before the trip. “It’s so exciting, with all the other veterans. It brings back a lot of memories.” Another local centenarian veteran, Dominick Critelli, of Floral Park, also took the trip.
Before the group departed, elected officials honored them for their service at a ceremony in the airport. “Words cannot express how grateful we are for all that you’ve done for our great country, and for all of us,” State Sen. Anna Kaplan said. “It’s not just for service during World War II, but for all the years after that.”