Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Friday we were dealing with the remnants of hurricane Andrea so we kept the truck in the garage. Then we received a notice that the show we were going to attend on Sunday had been cancelled….because of the hurricane. That event is on a grass field and unless your vehicle had a 30” lift kit it probably would not make it from one end to the other when it's wet. So this weekend’s adventures would hang on the event planned for Saturday.
Saturday the Princess and I met Tony & Janice and Bill & Teri at the 7/11 in Stafford, VA and cruised to Dulles Airport to participate in the Honor Flight welcoming party. We met Lou & Arlene at the airport as they come from a different direction. Honor Flight provides transport, free of charge, to WWII veterans so they can visit the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. We participated last year in one welcoming ceremony and it was very emotional at the same time making us so glad we are part of this experiment called the U.S.A. Check out the website and see if you can participate sometime….you will not regret it. http://www.honorflight.org/
So….most of ‘our’ group of Veterans came from Wisconsin and I’m sure D.C. is a culture shock for them anyway. The Veterans are not told of the welcoming party awaiting them on the other side of the terminal doors when they arrive from their trip. Saturday there were about 300 people waving flags, holding up ‘Thank You’ signs hooting and hollering. There was a group of Civil Air Patrol Cadets that stood at attention and saluted all the incoming Veterans. Most of the welcoming group offered a hand of friendship and thanks to all the Veterans as they moved through the crush of people. Some got hugs and embraces from the welcoming group and all were honored in any way we could. All the Veterans had a ‘handler’ that stayed with them all the time from beginning of the originating flight to the Memorials in D.C then back to their home airport. Some of the Veterans were in wheel chairs but about half walked on their own. There were many poignant moments of interaction with these examples of the Greatest Generation. Small children would wade into the procession and thank the Veterans….women hugged and whispered in their ear as they thanked them. The applause was relentless for almost 1 ½ hours. There were three lady Veterans in this group, last year there was only one! Remember these very special groups of people are in their late 80’s and 90’s!
They all finally made it to their awaiting busses to be transported to D.C. As they were loading a small boy dressed in a Sailor suit, up on top of a Jersey wall with a sign saying “Thank You” was waving to them. His Mom said that she had been bringing him to the welcome event since he was 5 months old….so he could thank the ‘Special People’. When they were safely aboard the five busses, their motorcycle escort, made up of younger Veterans, led them downtown to Washington D. C. and a day of exploring “Their Memorial”.
One of the Veterans, a double Purple Heart recipient, was fighting cancer and the thought of coming to D.C. to visit “His” memorial from a grateful Nation was keeping him going the last year or so. On the way to the originating airport in Wisconsin he fell asleep and answered his last call to Duty…. His remains will be brought to Arlington National Cemetery on the next Honor Flight from his area…. These Heroes will soon not be among us anymore and the fabric of what makes us Americans will be less because of their departure.
I cannot adequately convey the emotion of this exchange with the Veterans so please visit the two links below and see for yourself. One is video the other has stills of the event…. If you want to experience this blessing just contact http://www.honorflight.org/ and see how you can help….you won’t be sorry. Just do it soon.
Posted by Slacker at 3:05 PM