SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb (KCAU) — Daryl Harrison and Ken Hanel walked 432 miles to honor those who have earned the nation’s highest military award for bravery.
“It leaves you so drained. Right now, it is hard for us to speak, but neither one of us could be more proud of America and Nebraska and all those people that we saw out there waving their flags telling us that America was still alive,” said Daryl Harrison, a walker and organizer.
“It’s just a historic moment,” said Ken Hanel, a walker and organizer.
The group walked 36 miles a day, which is 6 miles for each of the 74 Nebraskans who have earned the medal.
“The hospitality and what we encountered was just true Nebraskan,” Hanel said.
“Over the last 12 days, what I got to see time after time was young mothers bringing their children out, so they knew who we were what was happening and teaching their kids, and that’s something that’s important to us,” said Harrison.
To welcome the walkers during the final leg of their journey, Freedom Riders rode into Siouxland Freedom Park, with crowds of people cheering and waving flags in celebration.
Among the many that were there to greet the group was James McCloughan, the only Nebraska Medal of Honor recipient still alive.
“Anyone who can represent that group feels pretty humbled. It’s not just honoring the medal of honor people, you’re honoring everyone, 42 million who have put on the uniform and all the battles America has been in,” said McCloughan.
The 12 day journey ended with a ceremony. Veterans and city officials honored both the walkers and those who have served.
“I served overseas I served in Europe, there’s a lot of great places, but this is the greatest country on earth,” said Hanel.