Couple travels to memorial

Published 10:29 pm Monday, October 6, 2008

Lou Fuhrmeister and his wife, Marianne, have been married since 1944 and both served during World War II.

The couple joined 34 veterans to see the War World II monument through the Birmingham chapter of Honor Flight, a program that takes veterans to Washington to view monuments in their honor free of charge.

“This means so much for all the veterans to go,” said Amy McDonald, co-director of the Birmingham chapter of Honor Flight. “It is great to stay back and watch them see their memorial.”

Sept. 10 marked the first day the two saw the monument.

“I think the younger generation is taking care of us,” Marianne said. “We really felt honored.”

Marianne was the first of the pair to join the military, something she decided to do while accompanying her friend who was enlisting.

“I just did it on the spur of the moment,” she said.

After joining in 1942 and completing her training, Marianne was assigned to work in Miami doing communications for the Navy.

Lou quickly followed in her footsteps, joining the military in 1944, after completing his chemical engineering degree at Iowa State.

Lou, who went on to serve in the Pacific, was stationed in Hollywood, Fla. — only 17 miles away from where Marianne was.

After being discharged from the military, Lou worked as a chemical engineer before retiring in Birmingham to be close to the couple’s son.

While in a Bible class, Lou heard about Honor Flight and decided to sign up to go. Both he and Marianne qualified to travel to Washington.

The couple said they were impressed with the monument and how much work everyone in Birmingham had done to give them the chance to see it.

“The people who put this together did a lot of work on this,” Marianne said.

The couple, who took off from Birmingham International Airport, were given a warm welcome when they got off the plane.

“In Baltimore there was a big reception, at least 75 people were there,” Lou said. “It was a surprise to us.”

Marianne agreed.

“I was very surprised that people would go out of their way for us,” she said.

While on the way to the monument the group watched a film about how the memorial to the veterans was built.

After viewing the memorial and sightseeing around Washington, the veterans flew back to Birmingham.

“We got back to Birmingham and it was a real celebration,” Lou said.