With a big smile on his face, World War II veteran Steve Van der Weele ‘49 recalls the events of last Veterans Day.

The Calvin professor of English emeritus was invited to participate in an annual wreath-laying ceremony for veterans at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Van der Weele said the honor was extended to him when his son Philip, who had been asking for years if he could take him to D.C. to visit war memorials and museums, contacted the event organizers and asked about seating accommodations. As it turned out, the organizers emailed him right back and said they would put him in the wreath presentation program alongside Army nurse Regina Benson.

Van der Weele expressed deep gratitude for the opportunity to be present in the wreath-laying ceremony.

“We all walked tall that day—metaphorically, that is, because not all of us could walk,” he said with a chuckle.

Van der Weele was amazed by how many people in the crowd stopped to thank him.

“There are many more people who deserved this honor, but they’re not here anymore, and so it was my great honor,” he said.