Day one: Vets visit Arlington National Cemetery
By SUSAN NABINGER and JOHN BRENNAN With a scheduled departure at 5:30 AM, the Herkimer County veterans began arriving at 4:30 AM, before the coffee was prepared. A lavish spread of pastries, donuts, muffins, cookies, and scones were available for the veterans before they departed. A number of the Herkimer B.P.O.E. 1439 Elks Club members were on hand to assist the veterans with their luggage and load the coach. The Herkimer Elks were the sponsor of the departure for the fall 2004 trip, as well as this trip. The veterans were also treated to items donated from the following establishments: Heidelberg Bakery; Panera Bakery; White Rose Bakery; and Campione Water Company. Prior to departure, the veterans gathered for a group photo taken by Matt Stubley, who generously donated his time and talent to capture this historic moment. Father Ligato blessed the trip and led those gathered in a prayer. At 5:40 AM, the veterans said their good-byes and began to board the coach to hugs, kisses, tears, and loud cheers. The assembled group of over 100 family, friends, and well wishers waved their American flags, which had been passed out for the occasion, as the coach left the Herkimer V.F.W. Post 4915. With red lights flashing, the coach was led out of town by a police escort consisting of a New York State Police car, a Herkimer County Sheriff's car, a Sheriff's car operated by Herkimer County Sheriff Chris Farber, and a Village of Herkimer Police car. Two and a half hours into their trip, the veterans stopped at the Modena rest stop on the New State Thruway. At the rest stop they sat at picnic tables and enjoyed coffee and pastries which had been brought along on the trip from the VFW. En route to Washington, the veterans watched videos about the sites they would be visiting in Washington and viewed a few of the Dean Martin roast tapes that had been brought along to lighten the mood. The veterans stopped for a buffet lunch at the Runnemede, New Jersey Holiday Inn. After departing the Holiday Inn, the veterans made their way to their hotel. The veterans arrived at the Marriott at 3:00 PM to a reception and introduction of the hotel staff who would be attending to their needs while in Washington. The veterans made their way to Arlington National Cemetery to view the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After the changing of the guard, the veterans were introduced to Sergeant Philip D. Fahrerholtz, a member of the battalion that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Sergeant Fahrerholtz, born and raised in Seneca Falls, New York, has been assigned to guard duty for over two years, and spent over a half hour talking with the veterans, answering their questions, and posing for pictures with the veterans. One of the veterans on the trip, whose brother is interred at the Arlington Cemetery, was brought to her brother's grave site and placed fresh flowers, donated by Flowers by Suzanne, at her brother's headstone. This was the first time she had been to her brother's grave site in well over thirty years. The veterans departed Arlington National Cemetery at 6:00 PM, arriving late for their dinner with Congressman Sherwood Boehlert. The Congressman spoke with them, helped some of the veterans get their dinner, and stayed and dined with them. After dinner, the veterans watched a slide show about the White House and World War II Memorial. The veterans retired to their rooms at about 9:00 PM, anxious for their trip to the White House and World War II Memorial. This diary of the Herkimer County World War II veterans was compiled by Susan Nabinger and John Brennan, the two committee members accompanying the veterans on the trip to the National World War II Memorial.
This photo was taken after trip participant,
Vivian Wright, placed flowers that were donated
by Suzanne Delude of Flowers by Suzanne,
at her brother's grave.
Herkimer County Veterans pose with
Sergeant Philip Fahrenholz, a member of the color
guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
at Arlington National Cemetery. Click Here to Return to the News Page