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First Person Present

From Honor Flights … to Rocking the Dock … to Shark Week, Bay Weekly puts you in the know

"Lend Lease," one of 24 bas-relief sculpture panels created by sculptor Ray Kaskey and set into the balustrades of the north and south ceremonial entrance walls of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The panels depict the all-out mobilization of America’s agricultural, industrial and military and human resources during the Second World War. <<by Rick Latoff / American Battle Monuments>>Commission

Have your travels taken you to BWI, National or Dulles airports as a plane full of old veterans made their slow way through the concourse? If so, you’ll know the eruptions of appreciation described by writer Selene San Felice in this week’s feature story, The Men Who Saved the World: Honoring the Greatest Generation of Veterans Starts at BWI.
    I’ve seen that scene, as the planned Honor Flight welcome is amplified by the spontaneous gawking, applause, photo snapping, even singing of travelers whose ordinary passage through the airport has pulled them into history.
    Massed together as they were in their fighting companies, for perhaps the last time, the veterans come so full of memories that passers-by can’t help but feel the weight they carry and imagine its import.
    More powerful still, as San Felice documents, is to share the sacred space at one of our great national memorials like the World War II, Korean or Vietnam with a gathering of veterans who lived those wars.
    As well as Honor Flights, other organizations bring their veterans to our nation’s memorials.
    It was on a pilgrimage organized by the Laborers International Union of North America that I felt the power still vital in these old men.
    They saw the war, I wrote in this space in May 2010. You cannot imagine what they saw. But you know from their shell-shocked look that they are seeing it again.
    They are awed and daunted, and their hearts are overflowing.
    That May day was the last visit of many of the ­veterans I joined.
    Two I knew well are no longer with us: Paul Penn, a World War II veteran, and his son David Penn, a Vietnam veteran. Together we had traced the story of America’s wars in 24 bas-relief panels sculpted in brass on the ceremonial entrance walls to the World War II Memorial. One of the panels depicts trucks and jeeps on their way to England through the Lend Lease program.
    “That’s what I did. I was a driver,” said Paul, reading the images with his fingers and memory as if they were Braille.
    I was there, he said, and made the story real.
    Great as the power of art and architecture are, human witness is more powerful still. To understand the weight of history, we need the first person present. That’s what we get when we share the company of veterans — at our airports, our memorials and this week in Selene San Felice’s story.
    Selene, just turning 21 as you read her story, will remind you of the power of empathy — and take her ­veterans’ memories far into the future.

And, that’s just one of the benefits you get from reading this issue of Bay Weekly.
    Read about how Chesapeake Beach Resort Rocks the Dock almost every night of summer … Shark Week at Calvert Marine Museum, with living sharks and fantastic fossils … how to catch rockfish … what to do for entertainment and education through July 14 — plus, who’s doing what all around Chesapeake Country.
    In our advertisements, you’ll find just what you need — as well as what you didn’t know you needed until you saw it here.
    As always, Bay Weekly puts you in the know.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com