By Jean Seegers


ROCKTON – Final plans are being made in preparation for the sixth annual VetsRoll annual veteran’s tour of war memorials in and around Washington D.C.

Two hundred war veterans from World War II, The Korean Conflict and “Rosie the Riveter” veterans will make the trip.

This year, veterans from the Viet Nam War through the end of 1963 have been included. One hundred forty assistants (who pay their own way) will accompany them as they board luxury busses and motorhomes in the Hononegah High School parking lot in the early morning of May 17.

The caravan will return to the same location around 9 p.m, May 20.

Since VetsRoll began in 2009, the event has been held at the Eclipse Center in Beloit.  Extensive renovations at the Center forced the change in location this year.

Officials say there will be plenty of parking available at the high school on Salem St. in Rockton for those who want to help send the veterans off early Sunday morning and/or attend the welcome home celebration in the high school PAC on Sunday evening.

This year, the caravan will be stopping at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Museum, in Dayton, Ohio, the first night and will be staying at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. the following nights.

VetsRoll was conceived six years ago by the Mark and John Finnegan, owners of Finnegan RV in South Beloit. They wanted to honor the memory of Cy Finnegan, the family patriarch who served in WW II.

Since the family was in the motorhome business they decided to bring as many veterans as possible together for a four day all –expense trip to visit the war memorials in and around Washington D.C.

The concept was to be called VetsRoll. The family began a campaign to raise money through donations and fundraising events to make the plan a reality. They recruited qualified volunteers to accompany the veterans. The trip was an overwhelming success.

Every year applications exceed space available, and each year they come from further away.  Veterans from 19 states will make the trip this year. Space is necessarily limited to 200 veterans.

Donations to sponsor a veteran and fundraising events have become a year-round process. Area schools and businesses are involved in making the trip an unforgettable experience for our veterans.

As in previous years, the homecoming caravan will return under a motorcycle escort, fireworks and patriotic music. Thousands of cheering family members and well-wishers are expected to be on hand to welcome them home.

Everyone is welcome to be part of this unforgettable experience. The homecoming event on May 20, is an opportunity to pay tribute to,and thank our veterans for their service to our country.

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