LETTER: A small price to pay: Thank youTo the Telegram: It was a whirlwind day, packed full of wonder, excitement and memories when veterans joined the Badger Honor Flight on May 19.
To the Telegram:
It was a whirlwind day, packed full of wonder, excitement and memories when veterans joined the Badger Honor Flight on May 19.
Dropping us off at the Madison, Wis., airport by was Grandpa’s great-granddaughter Jayme and her husband Craig. As we pulled to the curb, we were met by men in uniform. They opened the doors for us and escorted us to the main lobby. Once there we got into a receiving line to get our identification, jackets and hats. The veterans are given red, and the guardians receive blue.
From there, pictures were taken, and seated while we were asked what they could get for breakfast, offering an assortment of muffins, sweet rolls, coffee and fruit.
Boarding the plane on time, the flight was comfortable and fast. We arrived about 30 minutes early at the airport in Washington D.C. The plane was welcome with flags, posters and supporters.
We then boarded the four coach buses, which were escorted by law enforcement to every stop.
Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery. We were able to view the changing of the guard. Our guide was extremely informative, and we learned some lessons in history. Driving into the cemetery, we noticed many buglers at different locations. We found out 200 buglers from across the nation had gathered that day to honor the 150th anniversary of “Taps.” They all played taps at exactly noon. One of the bugler’s was just 13. Imagine his experience.
Dad has always been a fan on Audie Murphy. He was a western star and wrote country music. He was most famous for being one of the most highly decorated soldiers in WWII.
Then it was on to the WWII Memorial after a lunch provided on the bus. Leading us into the 2004 WWII Memorial was a bagpiper paving the way for the veterans of that war visiting it on this day. A surprise awaited dad. His grandson, Brad, Stephanie his wife, and great-grandson Bryant were joining us.
One of our highlights was meeting Elizabeth Dole. Her husband, Bob, was hospitalized, but she had come by herself. She made it a point to thank each and every veteran for their service, was smiling for pictures and graciously signed autographs. As senator, Bob Dole was instrumental in raising money to establish the WWII Memorial.
There were four buses in our group and next on the agenda, we went to the Korean Vietnam and Lincoln memorials. The last on the list was the newest Air Force memorial.
Our departure from Washington was very similar to our arrival. Our entertainment this time included the Hot Society Orchestra of Washington along with singer Amy playing her part well but also a fantastic songstress.
Approaching us in the airport, at the memorials, total strangers thanking the veterans for serving our country, and help in saving the world.
Upon departure, our plane was sprayed by the firefighters as their way in saying thank you.
We weren’t done yet, and if possible, the homecoming was beyond words. Stepping forward behind dad, who was escorted by a man in uniform holding him, and one behind, my breath stopped. The fanfare, the terminal packed with family and friends was hard to imagine. Bucky Badger led the veterans through the crowd, then banners, and posters all welcoming their heroes, men and women.
In closing, I have recognized the need to thank a veteran or soldier serving is a priority we all need to do. This is a great country for they paid the price and are still paying it today on everyone’s behalf. They don’t ask for a thank you, but they deserve it.
In addition, if you have the opportunity to support fundraisers, these honor flights aren’t free. Each plane costs about $90,000 to use for the day, the police escorts around $1,000 a day, the volunteers work tirelessly to make the day safe, fun and successful so please donate whatever you can.
That’s a small price to pay for our freedom.