WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Thousands of people will head to the memorials around the country and in our region to honor veterans on Memorial Day.
Delia Goncalves reported from the World War II Memorial on Monday morning. She spoke to Francis Gibson, Jr. at length. He lives in Northern Virginia and was at the memorial in honor of his father, Francis Gibson, Sr., who served in the Army in World War II.
Gibson, Jr. told us, "My dad was special like everybody else's dad. He had the honor of serving in the U.S. Army during World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific arenas."
Unfortunately, Gibson's dad passed on but he did come to the memorial for the opening but he didn't have a chance to walk the grounds, take a look and take it all in.
"He came down for the initial opening but because of the way they had things set up, a lot of the veterans did not get to see it up close. He was one of them. Unfortunately, he was not able to get back down while he was mobile to take it in up close and personal," said Gibson, Jr.
Gibson, Jr. told us what goes through his mind when he walks the grounds: "The sacrifices that the man made for me to be standing here. The loss of history that's not reinforced with today's generation because too many young people that I have talked to do not understand or appreciate it. They don't realize that if it was not for World War II and other wars, but especially World War II, there would be no United States probably."
We are losing so many of those war heroes, says Gibson, Jr. "We're losing so many of them quickly. I saw a statistic the other day. They estimate the last surviving will pass on in 2036, I thought it said, which to me seems to be far in the future but maybe not."
As far as paying tribute to his father on Memorial Day, Gibson, Jr. said, "I'm here and will be at his gravesite later today to say hello to him. And we honor him every day, especially on Sundays ... and we try to do the things that he enforced in us -- to work hard, be respectful of other people and appreciate what we have."