WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUS9)--Today is the 69th Anniversary of V-E Day, when the Allied Forces declared victory in Europe. This historic day was celebrated at the World War II Memorial in DC.
Under a blazing sun, the veterans' faces reflect the passage of time, but their memories of May 8th, 1945 are vivid.
"Everyone went wild that night. It was wonderful. I'll never forget that day," said Alan Lukens, a 90 year-old veteran from Chevy Chase, Maryland. "The French had liberated a lot of champagne and killed a lot of chickens so we celebrated with them on the real VE Day."
"I just remember people were happy. Celebrating," nodded Nona Hagen, a member of the Women's Army Corps.
The ceremony at the World War II Memorial brought a Navajo Code Talker from New Mexico and other veterans from across the country, including those aboard an honor flight from Wisconsin.
"I hit the jackpot today. I didn't realize it was going to be this extensive," laughed Hagen.
The 95 year-old was a WAC, in the Women's Army Corps, which General Douglas Macarthur once called his best soldiers.
"The men didn't always appreciate that," she remembered. "Those who had nice soft, cushy jobs, we took them. And they had to go off to war."
For many of these veterans, this was their first visit to the World War II Memorial. And they became a living history lesson for generations to come.
"Thank you for your service," was the refrain of several school children at the Memorial, shaking the hands of the veterans.
"It's just great to see people that gave back for our country. It's like breathtaking," said 13 year-old Ben Myers, visiting from Pennsylvania.
"I thought it was really emotional," echoed classmate Alex Perez, 14. "I really liked meeting that lady, just thinking that a girl also can do what a guy can do. I liked how she fought for us too."
The veterans won't soon forget this day, and neither will the teenagers. A day that united history and heroes.
Written by Andrea McCarren, WUSA9