Being a part of the Logan County Vets to DC Tour was a mixture of emotion and education for Indian Lake High School senior Tiana Hughes.
After winning an essay contest on “What a Veteran Means to Me” in the spring, Hughes got the opportunity to travel as a volunteer with more than 40 local veterans to the nation’s capital.
Right away Hughes and two other students on the trip formed a special relationship with WW II veteran Walter Matthews. Hughes says her favorite highlight was when 94-year-old “Wally” laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
“It was kind of surreal,” she said. “It was so quiet. Watching Wally get to do that was just an awesome experience.”
Hughes was able to make connections with many veterans on the tour as she helped them on and off the bus, pushed them in wheelchairs, carried items for them and assisted in any way she could.
Hundreds of people lined the streets to cheer them on as the caravan of buses left Logan County to start the trip on Friday, Sept. 21, and several supporters were there for the return on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Hughes found it all overwhelming.
“I wasn’t expecting so many people to be out cheering us on. It was neat!”
In her essay “What A Veteran Means to Me,” Hughes wrote:
“My immediate reaction when facing a veteran is to show respect. This person, without knowing me, has made one of the greatest impacts on my life. This person has paved the way for my future in America, along with millions of others. In doing so, this person was also willing to sacrifice their own future.“
Hughes says attending Buckeye Girls State this summer and learning about how government works got her even more excited about the journey.
She says, “I know our freedom comes from someone…it comes from them.”
Submitted by the Indian Lake school district.