In this month of Veterans Day, I want to tell you about an experience I had in September.
After being on their waiting list for over a year, I was a guest of the Southwest Florida Honor Flight as one of a group of 50 World War II veterans flown to Washington to see the World War II memorial.
A personal guardian and wheelchair was assigned to each of us, whether needed or not.
As we approached security at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, 100 or more people were lining the hall waving flags, applauding and cheering. As the plane taxied down the runway, the airport firemen gave us a water canon salute on both sides, a feature that was repeated as our plane taxied into Washington.
Going into the terminal at Reagan National Airport, we were met by a crowd of over 200 enthusiastic well-wishers as a male chorus was singing all the service songs.
There were many tear-dimmed eyes as our group of old veterans slowly made our way through this passageway,
Many came up to us individually to say, "Thank you for your service." I could only respond by saying, "It was my privilege."
Buses took us to the magnificent World War II memorial, other memorials and Arlington Cemetery. We had lunch and dinner and flew back to Fort Myers where, although we were about two hours late, 50 or more people were still waiting to heartily welcome us back.
It was an emotional and exhausting day to be long remembered and appreciated for all the volunteers and sponsors of this event, all of whom expressed appreciation to us for something that happened long before they were born.
I would urge any World War II veteran who hasn't seen this memorial to get on the waiting list by contacting Southwest Florida Honor Flight, P.O. Box 494488, Port Charlotte, 33949.