WASHINGTON - The D.C. area has a special visitor this weekend. A 90-year-old World War II veteran from Portland, Maine, is making the trip here thanks to a little help from his friends.
Arthur Best served in the Army from 1943 to 1946 and then became a firefighter for 24 years.
He retired in 1974, but to this day, he still goes by the fire station in Portland to have coffee with the firefighters on duty.
Best lost his wife of 67 years back in July and the firefighters wanted to do something nice for him. So they came up with the idea to raise money to send him on a trip to the nation’s capital.
They couldn't have come up with a better idea.
“This is one of the highlights of my life – seeing the memorials,” he told us. “I’ve never been down to see the memorials since I got out of the service.”
The last time he was in Washington D.C. was 1952.
On this trip, he paid tribute to the war he served in. This Army combat infantry man reflected on the past as he honored those lost.
When he laid down a wreath at the World War II Memorial, he felt sad.
“I was lucky. I knew a lot that didn't come home. It was a tense moment,” he said.
Best reflected on his time in the service as he visited memorials around D.C. This tender-hearted and kind man is also very modest.
We learned more about his military service from his firefighter buddies. He was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. His unit also received a Presidential Unit Citation from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The memories that linger now are perhaps less official and more emotional. More than 60 years later, it feels just like yesterday.
“It’s a thing you think about, but don't want to,” he said.
Best will be here until Sunday and he plans to visit Arlington National Cemetery to help place wreaths on tombstones there.