Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Honor Flight

This week we have gotten up and out the door early 2 different days, which is surely a record for us!  Saturday we were out in Purcellville at 8:00 AM for a 5K supporting the pHC alumni and IJM, an organization that works to stop human trafficking and slavery.  (The head of it was Nathan's 8th grade football coach, so we feel a particular tie to IJM!)  Anyhow, Nathan and Luke ran the 5K, and the rest of us walked/jogged/rode in a 1 mile "Fun Run".  It was a beautiful day, and we had a great time! 

So when a few days later one of Nathan's CAP leaders sent out an email stating they needed people to volunteer to meet an Honor Flight Wednesday morning that was arriving at 8:50, I was flush with early-morning success and said we'd go.  This meant we had to be at Dulles at 7:50, which was a stretch, but we did it!  And it was worth it. 

Honor Flight is an organization that is working to get as many WWII veterans to DC to visit the WWII memorial.  The organization has a fascinating history, which you can read about in the link.  They started in Dayton, with the Wright-Pat aero club!  I didn't know that before!  World War II vets are dying at an average of 800 a day, so time is running out, but by the end of 2012, more than 98,500 vets had made the trip.

There is a group of people who work to make sure that each one of these flights are greeted by cheering people, showing these vets how much we appreciate their sacrifice and service.  They have the routine down, with the gate decorated with bunting, patriotic music playing, flags to hand out to people like us, and so on.  As the plane rolled up to the gate, 2 firetrucks saluted by spraying water over the plane in 2 arcs.  You totally can't see it in this picture, but it was really neat. 

When we first got there, there were not too many people, but more and more showed up, so by the end it was a good show.  My friend Lynnea and her girls were there too.
I would say there were about 70 vets, and maybe 30 "guardians" who travel with them.  I have to say those vets were in great shape!  Most of them walked off the plane--there were only a few in wheelchairs!  The plane was from St. Cloud, MN. 

The vets were moved when they came off the plane and saw all the people and heard all the applause and cheering.  I definitely saw some tears!  It was really special.  They liked seeing the kids, especially Micah and Drew.  Micah was a pro hand-shaker, which was good, since I wasn't sure how he would react.  We followed the vets out to the baggage claim.  They were waiting for tour buses to take them downtown, and we could have stayed and cheered them off, but the buses weren't actually there yet.  As the little people were starting to break down, I thought it was best to leave on a high note and make a clean getaway, LOL.  But we are planning to come back and do it again.  The CAP guy emailed us the year's schedule, and there are a lot of flights coming in.  It was a great way to show honor and gratitude to an inspiring group of men. 

1 comment:

Lynnea said...

That was such an amazing experience. I had a really hard time not getting emotional.

We are planning on going on Saturday as well, but of course Helena's orchestra audition is at exactly the same time. So.... she has to make a decision.