KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Road trips. Grilling. Sunburns. These are the trappings of a typical Memorial Day weekend.
But as you just read the list misses the motivation behind the federal holiday.
Leadership at the National WWI Museum and Memorial is planning a full slate of events honoring individual who sacrificed their lives while serving their country.
And there is a build-up leading to Monday with events dotting the lawn, including those that allow people to get up close with military gear and at times the veterans who used it.
For example, there’s a chance to hop inside a Vietnam Era Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” Helicopter. It was brought out by the Vietnam Veterans of America #243 out of Lee’s Summit.
The Huey is perhaps the most recognizable aircraft to those who served.
“This was the workhorse of the Vietnam War,” James McGirr – with the group – said.
“It’s able to hold 8-10 troops inside,” he said.
Len Carter was overseas in 1967. He rode in a Huey. Once.
“And the lieutenant is telling them ‘Change your clothes, go get a bite to eat. We’re pulling out in two hours on our operation,'” Carter said while pointing at a photo he took.
“Didn’t mind the take-off and the flight,” he continued. “We were about 4-to-6,000 feet – they just turn about 45 degrees and dive in like that. Well, the only thing holding us in is centrifugal force. We’re sitting on the floor.”
“[The war] gets back in history but it doesn’t get back for me. Everybody says ‘Well, you get older…’ Well, when you go to sleep, you’re back there. You don’t have any choice in the matter. I still have a lot of problems,” Carter said.
“Every Vietnam veteran or any veteran has their own story to tell,” McGirr said.
“Sometimes this is a healing tool,” he said, referencing the Huey. “They’ll come down with tears in their eyes and they do not want to talk to anybody.”
It’s difficult even for Carter, someone who wants to share his experience.
“I will have problems the next week. I always do after I do this. But the thing is the kids are like ‘oh, oh,’ – no, it’s not like the games man,” Carter said.
Here is a full link to Memorial Day Weekend events at the National WWI Museum & Memorial.