Day one was an early and emotional one, as the veterans know the words behind me all too well: “Freedom is not free.”

We took off in Midland around 6:45 a.m. to some rain delays, but we hit the ground running when we landed in Baltimore, where the veterans were greeted with cheers, handshakes and hugs.

Our first stop: the Korean War Memorial. Most of the veterans on this trip have never been to Washington D.C. or any of these memorials.

We then went to Arlington National Cemetary, always a somber place. Especially for those who have lost a loved on while serving.

While on the plane, I caught up with a mom whose son died while serving in Iraq.

“I’m looking forward to the Tomb of the Unknown,” Aurora Jumper said. “I’ve seen it before, but it’s going to mean a whole lot more to me now.”