5x8 Amrican Flag). The audience sits and listens as they learn of their itineraries, agenda, and settle into the idea. This is not any ordinary crowd, and this is not any ordinary event. And typically the guy at the podium is the one being honored. But in this case, it is the audience. These are men and women, veterans of WWII. They have signed up for an event which, for many, will become the bookend for their service during one of the most trying times in our history.
Honor Flight (honorflight.org) takes WWII veterans in aircraft to the Washington DC monument where they can see their name on the plaque. They can feel the golden stars of the heroes of the war. They can reflect on the sacrifices they gave and see our appreciation. For Honor Flight, urgency is literally a matter of life and death. It is estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day, many of whom will never see their monument in Washington DC.
FlagRunners learned of Honor Flight because our good friend Randy's father is signed up and ready to go. Sitting in the audience, we can only imagine his excitement and yes, anxiety. I often sat with my grandfather (who has since passed) and asked him about the WWII. "Aw... things were just different back then. You didn't have a choice. You served. That was it." He was a man of up-most sincerity. I am sure he would have felt similar to Randy's father had he been given the opportunity to participate in Honor Flight.
Even though WWII was over 60 years ago, Honor Flight did not take off until 2005 (literally). This is because a WWII monument at our capital wasn't completed until 2004. And it's conception is just as amazing as the results. A Retired Air Force Captain, Earl Morse became a physician shortly after service and took a special interest in his Springfield, Ohio veteran patients. He was ask them, "If you had the chance to visit the monument in Washington DC, would you go?" And many of them said yes. He organized six small planes to take the first lot of people. It wasn't soon after the signup list became pages long.
And in this month, Honor Flight has trips scheduled on 27 of 30 possible days.
Watch this compelling video showing veterans visiting the WWII monument in Washington DC.