Monday, November 10, 2014

Honor to Whom Honor is Due

On September 13, 2014, in the chilly Wisconsin pre-dawn, a group of WWII and Korean War veterans gathered at Dane County Airport in Madison, Wisconsin, and boarded a plane bound for Reagan International in Washington, D.C. When they landed in D.C., they were greeted by a band, balloons, and a cheering crowd that included Boy Scouts, civilians, and members from all the armed services waiting to shake their hands as they came off the jetway.

They boarded special buses which were accompanied by a police escort. Traffic was stopped to let them pass as they drove from memorial to memorial on a whirlwind tour of our nation's Capitol.

Here they are at the Iwo Jima Memorial:

The one in the white cap is my dad.

The flight was organised and sponsored by Badger Honor Flight, a regional affiliate of the national Honor Flight Network. If you've never heard of an Honor Flight, here is a quote from the website:
The purpose of the Honor Flight Network is to ensure that WWII and terminally ill veterans from any war have the opportunity to see the memorials that have been erected in their honor. The Honor Flight Network provides all amenities to the veterans, including all transportation, meals and lodging. Everything is free to the veterans because of how much they have sacrificed for this great country already.
Dad, who is a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War, was able to participate in this grand event thanks to the tireless efforts of my nephew P ("Nevvy"), who started the application process and followed through on all the necessary steps involved. Nevvy also flew to Wisconsin to act as Dad's "guardian" on the long day's trip. (Each veteran on an Honor Flight is accompanied by a guardian who acts as a helper. Some guardians are volunteers, and some are family members, but all guardians pay their own way.)

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Here are some photos from that amazing day in D.C.

The crowd at Reagan International Airport, waiting for the Honor Flight to arrive:

Photo courtesy of Badger Honor Flight

A veteran posing with the Parks Police escort:

Photo courtesy of Badger Honor Flight

Nevvy and Dad at the WWII Memorial:

The sombre and eerie Korean War Memorial:

"Freedom is Not Free":

In one day, the group of veterans and guardians visited Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, the Mall, and the Washington Monument. At the end of the long day, they boarded the plane for home.

On the flight back they were treated to a "mail call", when each veteran was given a batch of letters and cards collected in advance from family members, friends, school children, and members of Congress, thanking them for their service.

Meanwhile, at the Madison airport, a crowd had been gathering for hours, waiting to welcome the veterans home.

This is what the veterans saw as they came down the escalator or elevator:

Photo courtesy of Badger Honor Flight

It was 10 o'clock at night, and thousands of people, young and old, filled the terminal from end to end. Many of them were waving signs that read "Welcome Home". All of them were cheering and clapping.

The veterans walked (or were wheeled) down the long aisle between the packed crowds, while a band played one service tune after another. All down the terminal, as the veterans passed, people would lean out to say "Thank you," and to shake their hands.

Every veteran deserves a homecoming like this.

Here is to all the veterans who have given their time, their youth, their health, their limbs, and their lives, to defend the helpless of other lands, and to protect the land of our birth.

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Thank you, Badger Honor Flight, for giving these veterans such a memorable day.

Thank you, volunteers and service members, in Madison and D.C., for showing up at the airports to cheer our veterans.

Thank you, Nevvy, for all the work you did to get Dad included in this flight.

And thank you, Dad, for serving.

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  1. Thank you to your dad for his service and investment in peace for our world from me, too, Sue. I am so glad he was able to make the trip and be honored as those who are veterans should be. And thank you, Sue, for another wonderful post. xx

  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful event with us, Sue. And a big hug for your sweet dad and smart (and handsome) nephew. Linda@Wetcreek Blog

  3. Please thank your Dad for his service. I so loved this post. It's very powerful and moving. We are so blessed to live in this great country that is full of such wonderful heroes! And just how cool is your nephew! What a truly kind and awesome thing he did for your Dad. Blessings.

  4. Fantastic tribute. My dad was also in WWII and the Korean War, but has long been at rest. Thank you for your service sir, to ensure freedom for us.

  5. How wonderful!! I cried as I read your Post. So glad your Dad was well enough to go and that your nephew was kind enough to handle all the details.
    Bless all our Veterans.

  6. Thank you for sharing this, for bringing tears to my eyes, and for having such an awesome family!

  7. Thank you granddad M for your service!

    Thank you Nevvy.

    And, thank you Mrs. M for posting such a heartwarming post. The Korean Memorial is indeed somber and eerie.

    Dang, I just shorted-out my laptop with crocodile tears.

  8. What a great post! Honor Flight is amazing. I love when the news highlights a local Vet

  9. How important we remember those that sacrificed so much...
    It is Veterans Day here too, a day for respect, remembrance and many thanks.
    I hope your Dad has been given all the credit and thanks he deserves for the sacrifices he made...
    A very special post from a proud and grateful daughter...
    Susan x

  10. God bless your father. I'll bet that was a trip of a lifetime for him. I am so glad he was able to go --- and what a big group it was. Very cool!

  11. I have loved all the memorial services over the last few days. We have been able to honour those who lost their lives and to thank those who came back. Your dad must have been touched and moved by his trip.

  12. I so enjoyed this post Sue. How wonderful that your dad had such a special, and incredibly well-deserved, day. I have tears streaming down my face as I type. My grannie died just over a year ago - she was a nurse with the RAF during WWII and spent much of the war in Burma(.........she was able to go back on an organised veteran trip a few years ago). She met my granddad on the troop ship out there and they married in India while on leave, he served with the army. We mustn't forget what people like your dad did for us all. Juliex

  13. Oh Sue, what a moving post, I'm tearing wonderful of your nephew to go through all that paperwork for his grandfather. Such a special day and then to see all the people at the airport on arrival home.......very moving.
    The Korean War Memorial, that's an amazing sight too......."Freedom is not Free" how true......xx


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