On Wednesday morning at Reagan National Airport nearly a hundred veterans from Northeast Wisconsin were greeted by dozens cheering and clapping for them.
For these brave men and women, that sound goes a long way. Veterans like Richard Moon who served in World War II.
"So far, I mean when we got off at Reagan, the reception we had was terrific with the people applauding and thanking us,” said Moon.
For the last decade, the organization Old Glory Honor Flight has been taking veterans from Northeast Wisconsin on a trip to the nation's capital.
Throughout the trip, the veterans are paired up with a guardian and make stops at memorials that were built in their honor.
Many of the veterans we spoke with say, they've never been to Washington D.C., while seeing everything is exciting, they say seeing the memorials trigger a lot of emotion.
That's the case for Bill Strauss, a 20 year Navy Veteran who served in Vietnam.
"I have lived my life in the navy right here today. It was worth every minute of it. I got my daughter in law and my two sons. What more can you ask,” said Strauss.
For James Leinen, it gives him a sense of pride.
"I'm impressed, I'm happy with the way we're honoring out veterans, and to see the amount of people coming to look makes me feel good. It makes me feel I earned it, and I'm glad to serve,” said Leinen.
The new memories being made are starting to outweigh the bad ones.
Some veterans say, decades ago life after service wasn't easy.
"I mean, you got off the plane, you weren't treated well, and you were not treated well for quite a few years,” said Vicki Powers
"Here we're not shunned or looked down upon or blamed. We're looked up to,” said Michael Hall. The trip took a slight turn when it was time to see Arlington National Cemetery.
"Some of the fellas I knew. I was thinking about them. They are the heroes"
As they paid their respects to the fallen heroes, they know they still have each other on this journey.
The appreciation doesn't stop in D.C. as everyone heads back to Appleton, it's time for mail call. They were surprised with letters from family, friends and even strangers thanking them for their service.
The moment a surprise for Vicki Powers, who says she has no blood relatives still alive reading a letter from a child.
"It says, Miss Vicki P on there, and there's a nice star on it, and it says, Miss Vicki P, thanks for your service to U.S.A. I take my hat off to you,” said Powers.
Bill, the Navy veteran got a letter from his wife of nearly sixty years.
As these service men and women waited for family, they're met with one last surprise.
The community welcomed them back home at Appleton International Airport with signs, a simple handshake and love, showing these veterans people are thankful for them and their service.