We can't all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and
clap as they go by.
If you haven't noticed, in the past several years there has been an interesting and exciting phenomena happening all across America and even in our own back yard. It's a phenomena that started as a dream, literally an impossible dream, yet how it became a national reality. An Air Force Captain of 27 years, Earl Morse had the dream. A dream to somehow honor his fellow Veterans that he had been associated during his military career.
This dream caught his attention upon the completion and dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 2004. He wondered to himself, just how many WW II Veterans would ever be able to see this memorial---built and dedicated for them! After all, the average age of these Veterans was 80 and about 1000 of them were dying daily.
It became a desire of his that burned in his soul that it would really be something if these WW II Veterans could actually visit this memorial as well as other national places of interest in Washington. But how?
Earl started asking Veterans if they would like to visit their memorial and just about everyone of them said they would but so many things prohibited them from doing so. Things like the cost, setting up the itinerary, getting someone to go along with them for several days and also some of the physical problems of traveling. Sounded nice but impossible.
Or was it? God has a way of working in mysterious ways, it seems.
Earl Morse was also a pilot and a member of a pilot's club where he lived. He asked a close Veteran friend of his that if he could get him to Washington, DC to visit the memorial, take care of everything, including the cost and do this all in one day, would his friend consider going? "Of course", Earl's friend said and now this far-fetched dream of Earls was starting to become more than just a dream. Earl approached other pilots in his flight club and challenged them, "Would you fly a WW II Veteran to see his memorial in Washington, free of charge to that veteran, and not only that, would you also escort that Veteran around the city that day?" Eleven pilots stepped forward and said yes. Absolutely. The Honor Flight Program was born.
In May, 2005, 12 excited and astonished Veterans flew out of Virginia and visited the WW II Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Capitol and the White House. It was an extraordinary experience for both veteran and pilot. By the end of 2005, 137 WW II Veterans had made the trip. And the idea spread quickly across America. By the end of 2011, over 81,000 WW II Veterans have traveled on the "Honor Flight" to visit the WW II Memorial as well as other sights.
Many Tama County Veterans have already made their journey to Washington, DC. They start out early in the morning and return late in the night. Their expenses are completely paid for and they bring along a special person to join them and help escort them throughout their trip. Escorts can be one if their children, grand-child, nephew, another relative or just a close personal friend. These people pay their own way and do so to honor the person they are escorting. Congratulations to both the Veterans who finally get the opportunity to see their memorial and their escorts who pay their own way to go with their Veteran. I'm sure it's a memory that will stay with them the rest of their lives. I would love to hear about your trip and experience.
This dream, now a reality, is not going to be limited to just WW II Veterans. Future plans are already being made to include Veterans from the Korean War, the Viet Nam War and the Middle East Wars to see their individual memorials. If anyone is interested in contributing to this great cause, I think you can check out the "Honor Flight Network" page on line.
In closing this week, I was thinking about what might be the best way to honor ALL OF OUR VETERANS. After all, each and every veteran is a hero and we owe them such a debt of gratitude. But what can you and I do? What in the world is just one thing that might in some small way show our appreciation for their service to the United States.
And then, it hit me! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! Friends, that's what our Veteran's fought for, the right to be free and freedom is in the vote! That's The Way I See It. Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 319-334-4117. Have a great week and say "thanks" to a Veteran today, ok????