Support group for blind and visually impaired veterans tour the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

A support group for blind and visually impaired veterans called VITAL, Veterans' Independence Through Adaptive Living, visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum just days before Veterans Day.
BY BRYAN PAINTER bpainter@opubco.com Published: November 11, 2012

At one point Williams read, “This close-up of a destroyed vehicle's mirror and passenger door illustrate the spray of debris and shrapnel across the area.” Stephens leaned forward, very close to the image and said, “Look at all the holes.”

Ben Knolles, with NewView, described a photo to Emory Finefrock, an 89-year-old veteran with macular degeneration.

Knolles looked at the photo, then toward Finefrock and said, “The only thing that's left there is a chair, and it's sitting on a ledge.”

Finefrock, who served in the Navy in World War II, sadly shook his head.

Just last month, he traveled with other veterans as part of the Oklahoma Honor Flights program to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

When asked why it was important for him to visit the memorial and museum with the group, he said, “It's a memorial, a remembrance of lives lost.”

Place to get together

Thomas Larson, spokesman for NewView Oklahoma, said the support group provides the blind and visually impaired veterans a place to get together at times and offers two to three field trips each year, such as this one.

“Veterans Day is about remembrance, just like this memorial is about remembrance, and we thought it would be something that would be meaningful and moving to the veterans here who served our country,” he said.

Stephens, who wore a jean jacket with a sticker of an American flag over his heart, paused after listening to Williams describe several photos and items.

He said, “I came here today out of sheer respect for those lost, for the survivors and for the rescuers.”

Stephens stopped at one display not only for himself but for Tommy.

It was titled “Man's Best Friend,” a tribute to rescue dogs.