Saturday, May 4, 2013

HONOR FLIGHT EXPERIENCE


Just a short note about the Honor Flight in case you are not familiar with it. There are 98 hubs in 35 states that fly WW II vets to DC to visit the monuments, especially the WW II one. There is no charge to the vet. It is funded by donations and I can proudly say that both my AT&T Pioneer service organization and my VFW group donate money and time to this program.

I volunteer with The Pioneers to register and thank these veterans for their service before they board their plane. It means getting up at 2am and being at the airport at 3am, but what a small price to pay when you see how excited they are. Two had birthdays today which made it even better. One gentleman turned 91 today and one lady was 98. We sent 88 vets out this morning and we’re doing it again on May 18th. Today’s group will be coming back into Madison about 8 am tonight.

Sending them off just makes you feel good, but welcoming them back is a whole different experience. When they return they are greeted by an over flow crowd of relatives, friends, VFW groups, a band playing 1940’s music, young women dressed in 1940s uniforms singing songs like the McGuire Sisters or Andrew Sisters of that era and non stop hand shakes as they make their way to a reception area.. Everyone there is waving a small flag and quite a few welcome their friends and relatives home with hand made signs, many with pictures of these vets when they were young and proudly serving their country. They are almost overwhelmed by the number of people, the continuous clapping and the shouts of “thanks for your service” from the crowd. If you have never experienced this, please give it a try. I can’t think of any generation that was more willing to give so much to keep our country free. They will forever remain “The Greatest Generation” and deserve this final thanks for their service.

16 Million served in WW II and only 20 percent have gone. Currently 1,100 WW II vets are dying each day. This illustrates the urgency in trying to get everyone of them on one of those flights. There are currently 16,000 on the waiting list. Each vet must have a responsible guardian with them and they have to pay their own way, usually about $500 a piece for the honor of being with these vets for the day. Please get involved and volunteer because I have found that many times I get more out of it then those that are on the receiving end. If you don’t want to participate or can’t, think about making a monetary contribution to the Honor Flight program in your area. We owe it to them.

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