HARRISONBURG, Va., June 14, 2012 – As part of a summer community service project, seven members of the James Madison volleyball team traveled to Washington, D.C. to join up with the Honor Flight Network in welcoming United States Veterans of World War II to the nation’s capital.
The seven members of the team, seniors Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) and Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian), junior Kelly Maguire (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) and sophomores Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs), Martha Stewart (Naperville, Ill./Waubonsie Valley), Kristi Richardson (Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage) and Alyssa Hall (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) traveled by van with associate head coach Ron Sweet to meet up with the veterans at Dulles airport.
Honor Flight Network is a organization that transports America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. The goal is to help every single veteran in America visit their memorial.
“Today was such an awesome experience,” Abel said. “It’s always been a staple in our program to make sure we go out and help others, and today was about recognizing and appreciating veterans and all they’ve done to serve our country. What I don’t think they realized was how much of an impact they had on us. Today, we are the ones who benefitted by their presence and it’s a day that each of us will remember. It was incredibly touching to see the pride in their eyes as they stepped off the airplane or as complete strangers approached them to ask for a picture.”
The team arrived at Dulles Airport to welcome a flight of 79 veterans and their guardians in from the Midwest. The Dukes welcomed the arriving flight, by shaking hands, hugging and posing for pictures with each of the veterans. They then traveled to the World War II Memorial on the National Mall and spent time talking with the veterans and listening to their stories.
In their time in D.C., the players also stopped by the Korean War Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
“I was so happy to be a part of this experience with the athletes,” Sweet said. “It proved to be very rewarding time for the World War II Veterans to see all the love, support and gratefulness that we had. I think it was even more rewarding to our athletes to visit with the veterans, hear their stories and truly have a sense of what that generation did for our country. I truly believe that this is a trip that the girls will always remember.”
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