Heroes Flight: Veterans visit Arlington National Cemetery, tour - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Heroes Flight: Veterans visit Arlington National Cemetery, tour U.S. Capitol

(Source: KLTV) (Source: KLTV)

Day two of the Heroes Flight began at one of the most sobering places in the nation's capital.

Arlington National Cemetery is a stark reminder for these veterans of the comrades they left behind. But this year, at least one person looked at these grounds a little differently.

Ninety-year-old Cliff Birchfield hopes to live for 20 more years. But when his time comes, he'll call Arlington his final resting place.

"I'm a retired Air Force Major," Birchfield said. "My son lives in Virginia, so I thought I'd have my ashes sent here."

This year's trip also included an uncommon stop at Arlington: The Women's Memorial.

Mary Melson served as part of the Navy WAVES, or women accepted for volunteer emergency service.

At the memorial, Melson stopped to look at a display featuring some of the uniforms she wore. She chuckled when her eyes fell on the dress blues. 

"I took the buttons off my blue uniform," Melson said. "And used that after I got out of the service, because my husband and I were both getting out of the service, and we didn't have much money."

Melson says she still has those buttons today. 

From Arlington, the veterans traveled to the most important, and this year the loudest, part of the trip.

They were greeted at their memorial, World War II, by the WhiteHouse High School Band and a patriotic concert.

The afternoon continued with a whirlwind tour of memorials: Vietnam, Abraham Lincoln, Korea, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, even Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.

Finally, a behind the scenes tour of the U.S. Capitol, with Congressman Louie Gohmert.

"It just blows your mind how pretty it is," said Jack Waren, a WWII Veteran from Longview. 

And after all that, the hope is that these veterans will realize just how deserving they are of a trip like this one.

"You see all the names on the wall, it's just very impressive," Waren said. "Touching. Touching."

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