Wisconsin WW II hero sees memorial erected in his honor

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Gray D.C.) - It was a whirlwind day for special Wisconsin veterans in Washington, D.C.

Frank Shakespeare and his son-in-law visited memorials along the National Mall Monday. | Source: Gray D.C.

They took off from Madison on Monday morning and are returning home on Monday night evening. But, the Badger Honor Flight has a different feel from others. Time is of the essence for honoring these heroes in our nation's capital.

"He's really committed a lot of his life to this country," said Mark Manning of his father-in-law, World War II veteran Frank Shakespeare.

Manning pushed Shakespeare around the grounds of the memorial erected in his honor on the National Mall. Shakespeare fought in the Navy during World War II. He went on to serve as US Ambassador to Portugal and the Vatican. Frank now struggles with dementia, but takes in the sites on a dreary DC day.

"He still understands and he grasps things," said Manning.

While Frank may not remember all the details of his World War II service, the memorials ensure the nation will never forget the Greatest Generation.

"It's great to have a place where you can come back, take a moment and reflect on why it is that we live in the great nation that we do," said Manning.

Shakespeare was one of two veterans taking part in Monday's events. Nicole Jennings, chairwoman of the Badger Honor Flight says this one was especially important.

"It's just really important to get them here while they can enjoy this and have the opportunity to see the memorials that were erected in their honor," said Jennings.

Jennings says this is the first flight focusing on terminally ill veterans and veterans with dementia. She says the event, made possible with the help of the Dan and Patti Rashke Foundation, prioritizes getting veterans to the memorials before it's too late.

"They often tell us that it's very healing for them so it's really an honor that we're able to give them this experience," said Jennings.

Jennings says they plan to continue to do these flights for sick veterans.

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