© Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker laughs with World War II veteran Sidney Walton… By GLENN BLAI...
By GLENN BLAIN, New York Daily News
Sidney Walton, a 99-year-old World War II veteran, is on a new mission — and he’s about to bring it to New York.
Walton, a Brooklyn native who lives in San Diego, is traveling the nation with the goal of meeting every governor by the time he turns 100 in February. He hopes to shake hands with Gov. Cuomo sometime this week.
Walton hopes the “No Regrets Tour” will raise awareness to the fact that World War II veterans are rapidly dying off. He wants to give as many people as possible the chance to meet him and talk with a survivor of the war.
“It is important that they meet living history, they meet someone who fought in World War II,” said Walton’s 62-year-old son Paul, who is traveling with his father.
“We are going to go to all 50 states, all 50 capitals, meet all 50 governors with the intent to meet anyone who has never met a World War II veteran,” Paul Walton said in a phone interview from Maine, where they had just met Gov. Paul LePage.
Paul Walton said he got the idea for the tour while celebrating his dad’s 99th birthday in February. The tour’s name is derived from the regret Sidney has always felt at not being able to meet a group of Civil War veterans who gathered for an event in Central Park when he was 21.
Soon after the event, Sidney joined the Army and ended up fighting in India and Burma. He never got another opportunity to meet Civil War veterans.
“It's like one final mission and that mission to put joy into every person's life, particularly those who have never met a World War II veteran,” Paul Walton said.
So far, the Waltons have met governors in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The reception has been overwhelming, Paul said.
The elder Walton was made an honorary brigadier general of the Rhode Island Militia, was presented with a Medal of Merit by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, and met countless people.
“They look at us with incredulity but then they look at my dad, they see that he is in great health, and they say ‘Sir, thank you for your service, thank you for everything you are doing,’ and they all shake his hand,” Paul Walton said.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi confirmed the governor is trying to arrange a meeting with Walton sometime this week.
Paul Walton said that aside from being confined to a wheelchair, his father is in good health and eager to continue the tour. They’re documenting their travels and raising money through a website called gosidneygo.com.
“He's really enjoying this tour,” Paul Walton said. “It is putting a smile on his face.”