I had the great honor of volunteering last month to be an “Honor Flight” escort. For those of you who don’t know, Honor Flights allow WWII and Korea War Vets to come to Washington DC (free of charge, all services are donated) to see the sights, including the stunning WWII Memorial.
My job for the day was to assist Mr. JH; a lovely gentleman in his 80’s who served in Saipan. He needed a wheelchair to get to/from the bus and I was in charge of getting us from point A to B. I’m pretty good with this, as I was a candy striper and worked in senior living. He was a delight to be with and it was a true pleasure to be with the entire group.
Our group consisted of 4 busses filled with Veterans, companions, volunteers and a medical team with EMTs and a physician. Many of the volunteers/coordinators were Vietnam Veterans. We also had police escorts that allowed us to roll through DC, criss-crossing the bridges with ease so that we could see the Capitol, Air Force, Iwo Jima, WWII, Korea & Vietnam Memorials as well as anything else our cheery tour guide pointed out. It was a whirlwind that ended with the Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery. Well deserved VIP arrivals and departures from the airports were also scheduled.
While strolling through the Memorials, total strangers came up and thanked the Veterans. I was flattered when I was asked if JH was my grandfather and then completely humbled when those same people thanked me for what I was doing.
For those of us who volunteered that day, no thanks were necessary. Honoring those who served and remembering those who did not return was/is the right thing to do. It was a memorable, wonderful day with an extraordinary group of men.
We should all be grateful for their service and for those who serve today. God Bless America.