Days before the original scale model of the World War II Memorial was displayed at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King, a local veteran made the trip to Washington, D.C., to see the actual memorial.
Bill Kramer was among the veterans on the April 11 Old Glory Honor Flight.
“It brought back memories. All the memorials are super. They’re so lifelike,” said Kramer, who served in the U.S. Army from 1940 until December 1945.
He was stationed in the United States during World War II.
“Of course, a lot of troops saw action. I didn’t,” he said. “I think about what our country is made of. We should appreciate it. It’s a great country.”
Kramer’s trip was made possible after Weyauwega and Fremont elementary schools raised funds last fall for the Northeast Wisconsin Old Glory Honor Flight.
The group organizes the trips for World War II veterans to visit memorials in Washington, D.C., including the World War II Memorial.
It was Kirk Delwiche, the elementary principal of both Fremont and Weyauwega elementary schools, who suggested the schools sponsor a veteran on a flight.
That was after Aleah Friemark, who teaches second and third grade at Weyauwega Elementary, told Delwiche she wanted to do a service learning project with her students.
Friemark and Melanie Eskildsen, the school district’s reading specialist, worked on it.
It costs about $700 to send a veteran on an Old Glory Honor Flight.
Kramer, a Fremont native who moved to the veterans home about three years ago, also needed medical transportation to and from Outagamie County Regional Airport in Appleton.
As a result, the goal of the students was to raise $1,000, so the transportation costs could also be covered.
A penny challenge took place at both schools from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2.
During the Veterans Day program on Nov. 9, how much was raised was announced, with Kramer in attendance.
The students raised almost $2,500.
Delwiche said he is proud of all the students who helped raised money to send Kramer and other veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials.
One or two other veterans will also be able to go on flights, due to the amount raised, he said.
Kramer said the flight out of Appleton left around 5:30 a.m. last Thursday.
The visit to Washington, D.C., included tours of the memorials and also a stop at Arlington National Cemetery.
For Kramer, it was not his first trip there.
However, it was his first time seeing the World War II Memorial.
“The other stops, I had seen most before,” he said. “You sort of stand there and meditate and thank all those troops.”
The trip also included mail call, with Kramer receiving letters from family, students and government officials.
“The people in charge, of course, contacted my oldest daughter,” he said. “She even sent a letter.”
He arrived in Appleton, where he was surprised to see the hundreds of people waiting inside the airport, clapping and wanting to shake his hand.
“The thing that sort of impressed me the most is when we got back,” Kramer said. “It’s so organized.”
Kramer appreciates what the students did for him.
“The day I was there last fall, I didn’t have any words to really thank them. It’s so emotional what those little kids did,” he said.
Madeline Pope, Doc Harley and Aida Zeinert, students in Friemark’s class, enjoyed helping him make the trip.
“It meant a lot to him,” Pope said.
Harley said it was a fun and educational project.
The students said it taught them the importance of helping others.
“Always help others get to where they’re going,” Zeinert said.
Harley said, “I’m happy that he had a good time, and he made it there safely.”
Delwiche appreciates the staff involved in coordinating the project at both schools.
“It’s great for our kids to have that view of how they can help their community,” he said. “This is one way they can help our community.”