Three veteran brothers took the trip of a lifetime to Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
They were a part of the monthly honor flight, a free, one-day trip to D.C. for senior veterans so they can experience memorials built in their honor. Each month, flights are filled with St. Louis-area veterans and their guardians.
Joe Friedman, 84, the youngest of the three brothers, served in the Air Force. His two older brothers, Cletus and Clarence, served in the Navy and the Army. Joe Friedman lives in Belleville; Cletus Friedman, 90, is from St. Charles, Missouri, and Clarence Friedman, 87, is from Florissant, Missouri.
“It was above and beyond anything I’ve ever been associated with,” Joe Friedman said. “I cannot believe how big of a deal it turned out to be.”
The Friedman brothers, along with a group of other area veterans, visited the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, and the Lincoln Memorial, among other places. Joe Friedman said his favorite part was being able to see the changing of the guard at the unknown soldier’s tomb at Arlington.
World War II veterans are dying at a rate of around 430 per day, according to gslhonorflight.org. Greater St. Louis Honor Flight is currently focusing on WWII and Korean War veterans, and those with a terminal illness.
It’s a busy day for the veterans, but many tell GLS Honor Flight that it was the best day of their life.
“It was something, sort of a tear jerker,” Friedman said. “You had tears in your eyes almost continuously because it was such an outstanding performance.”