PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Greater Peoria Honor Flight is back for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

The trip to Washington, D.C. is a family affair for one group of Central Illinois veterans. Our Shelbey Roberts was in the nation’s capital Thursday to record the moment.

It was a hero’s welcome for the 76 veterans who were part of the Greater Peoria Honor Flight and for those participating, the day brought moments of happiness and reflection.

Complete strangers at the Reagan National Airport terminal showed their full support for the Central Illinois veterans. For Army veteran Frank Sanders, it was a first-time experience.

Sanders is one of 76 Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, and Cold War Era veterans on the trip.

“He’s alive to see it, and that is a wonderful thing,” said his daughter Diana Norris. “I think he’s a very patriotic person. And you know we are a service family. I was a serviceman, and he was a serviceman, and my husband, too. We’re all about patriotism and serving our country, and we’re really looking forward to seeing the memorials.”

One of those memorials is the one for World War II Memorial: a tribute to brave service members who have given the ultimate sacrifice. 

The day came with waves of emotions as veterans reflected, remembered, and celebrated those they have served with, and honored those who went before them. 

Early Thursday morning, veterans witnessed the solemn ceremony of the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Later that afternoon, they headed to the Korean Vietnam, and Lincoln Memorials.

Continue to check our website throughout the day for more updates!