"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
-- President Woodrow Wilson, official proclamation in November 1919 marking the celebration of Armistice Day, later re-named Veteran’s Day in 1954.
|About 1,500 people welcomed the Veterans at RDU last week.|
Last week, I witnessed one of the truest forms of celebration I have ever experienced thanks to the Triangle Flight of Honor program.
On Thursday, November 4, 2010, a plane carrying 100 Triangle area World War II Veterans and several volunteers departed Raleigh-Durham International Airport bound for a day-long trip to Washington, D.C. Their mission is to make it possible for aging Veterans to visit the memorials that were erected in their honor. The plane departed early in the morning to much fan-fare, including a water cannon salute, and returned to just as much celebration. It was the return that I had the chance to experience….and I’m so glad I did.
|Banners welcoming the Veterans were hanging up at RDU.|
|Photos honoring each Veteran were on easels at the airport.|
As a child, I remember stories he would tell every time a military show came on the television or a documentary was screened or a holiday came around (Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day). I had to be there last Thursday for him. As I type this, I still have tears in my eyes.
At the welcome home event, there’s a lot of waiting. You have to get their early to see everything, and of course grab a prime viewing spot for when the Veterans return. But when they do return the crowd roars, the band plays, and there is not a dry eye in the house. Watching those men return to a celebration that’s just for them, watching their eyes light up at the numbers of people in attendance, and as they see their loved ones waving with flags or signage in hand--it’s truly something.
The Triangle Flight of Honor program is a nonprofit organization that relies on donors, sponsorship, and volunteers to make this happen for Veterans. The group aims to give all World War II Veterans in the area a chance to see the memorials in Washington in their honor. What they do is remarkable and it’s an honor just to be there.
The organization will be making another trip in February of 2011 and possibly in April as well. For more information, please visit http://triangleflightofhonor.com. Maybe I’ll see you in the crowd in February.
|Lisa at the Triangle Flight of Honor event last week.|