My Date with 25 WWII & Korean War Heroes!

I was invited to experience what it is like to go on a Space Coast Honor Flight.  Space Coast Honor Flight takes veterans to Washington DC, free of charge, to visit their war memorials. The flight was on Saturday, September 28, 2013 and what an experience it was!!!

 

Imagine arriving at an event at 2 am…  Now picture twenty-five men, ages ranging from 86 to 94 years young, along with over 200 people at the “nocturnal” festivities already there.  The joy in the room was palpable.  People of all ages were there…  Even the Eau Galley High School ROTC!  It was surreal to watch the future defenders of our country shaking hands with the men who fought for our freedom, long ago.  It was almost like watching an Olympian passing the torch.

 

When it was time to leave for the airport, around 4:30 am, all who attended formed two lines as one veteran at a time was called to enter the bus.  Both the veteran and their guardian paraded down the aisle and the cheers could be heard a mile away.   Prior to the bus leaving with our “escorting entourage”, to our right were men and women from Patrick Air Force Base and all who attended the celebration, saluting and honoring the men on the bus.  That sight brought tears to my eyes and took my breath away!

 

At the Orlando Airport, there was a banner welcoming all Space Coast Honor Flight Veterans and before taking off, the fire department had their own honoring ritual…  Fire trucks on both sides of the airplane as water flowed out towards the plane with a water salute.   All this before 7:30 am!

 

Arriving at Washington, DC was just as exciting…  There were people lined up, proclaiming shouts of “Thank You”, shaking hands and waving flags.  I thought I had stumbled into a parade!  We entered our next bus and we were escorted the entire day.

 

We saw all the memorials and the day was full of surprises, stories, laughter and tears.   We even had Senator Bill Posey welcome us to the WWII Memorial.  I am not going to share everything that happened that day because I want to encourage you to experience this yourself.

 

Being on a bus with 56 people sharing the same experience was magical. Although we were all together, each of us viewed the day differently but all of us were grateful to Space Coast Honor Flight…  What a wonderful organization!   All of this was made possible because of their great volunteers and generous donations.

 

Everywhere we went, we were treated like “Rock Stars” and not once did I hear from the mouth of a veteran; “well, it’s about time someone honored us!”  On the contrary, every single one of them humbly said; “We ONLY did what we were supposed to do.”  What happened to that kind of mentality?

 

On Saturday, November 23, 2013 from 12 pm to 1 pm, Space Coast Honor Flight will join me on The Lillian McDermott Radio Show and share why they do what they do.    As I prepare for the show and I think of that day, I cannot help but feel intense gratitude!  How appropriate since it is the week before Thanksgiving…

 

I am grateful for many things…  one being that we were there before the sequestration😉Seeing these memorials with both WWII and Korean War Veterans completely changed my perspective on how important it is to look back and remember, especially with the elderly.   These memorials came alive and now I know a few of the men who made my freedom possible and this nation great!

 

Interesting observation…  We were together for 22 hours and on the way back, it was the volunteers who were napping on the airplane! Most of the veterans were bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and totally engaged!

 

We returned to the center at 11:45 pm to a hero’s welcome with cheering, waving of flags and declaring over and over; “Welcome Home!  Welcome Home!”   I couldn’t help but think how many men and women didn’t make it home?  How many war heroes couldn’t experience this honoring day?  I quickly became aware how urgent life is.

 

We are losing approximately 900 WWII and Korean War Veterans every day. Honor Flights all over the nation are looking for WWII and Korean War Veterans to thank in this special way.  They also need Donations and Guardians.

 

Another interesting fact… not one face at this event looked sad or depressed.  So, if you want to make a difference, feel gratitude and joy, Space Coast Honor Flight is looking for YOU!

 

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world, is and remains immortal.”
― Albert Pine

 

If by chance you do not belong to a charitable organization, then ask yourself; “Why?” Make a commitment to give of your time, talent or treasure.  Everyone can afford to do something!

 

I am so grateful for this experience and wonder, what organization are you grateful for?

 

 

PS:  To view pictures from 9-28-13 Space Coast Honor Flight, click here.

 

 

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