Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Honor

Airports don't usually make me cry-- at least not unless my flight has been cancelled, but this past weekend, an event at the airport had me crying like a baby, and that is NOT something I usually do.

Husband and I were waiting for our slightly delayed flight from Baltimore back to Los Angeles and had an extra hour before boarding was scheduled.  I heard part of an announcement over the crackling loud speaker about "welcoming troops... static... Gate 20... static... in 10 minutes..."

I wasn't sure what was happening but we took a walk down the concourse and could easily see something "big" was about to happen.  More than 100 people were lined up with American flags and balloons in great anticipation of an arriving flight.  Since it was nearly Memorial Day, we assumed we were greeting soldiers arriving back in the States and were thrilled to be a part of it.

That was not the case.  Rather, we were greeting more than ninety World War II Veterans who were traveling to Washington DC to see their War Memorial as part of the Honor Flight Network.

As the doors to the jetway opened, people in the front got the first glimpses of aging soldiers, many of whom were in wheel chairs or using walkers.  Cheers, applause and whistling erupted and didn't stop until every single Veteran being honored had departed the plane-- more than 40 minutes later!  And I mean, the cheering never stopped, slowed, or quieted down!

Not a great photo, but you get the idea.  I was crying so hard most of the pics I took were blurry.

The crowd of on lookers grew to more than 300 enthusiastic people of all ages.   We were now 2 or 3 people deep in a line that snaked over 25 yards long--  It was a glorious welcome parade for the heroes, each one slowly making their way, shaking hands, saluting and wiping tears.  Frankly, there wasn't a dry eye in the place!

These courageous men and women, all well over the age of 80, were in awe of the reception they'd never expected.  And so was I.  It began as a small Welcome Committee from Honor Flight and, thanks to the airline's announcement, grew to literally hundreds of people thanking soldiers for their great service to America.  It made me feel so proud.

Reaching out, shaking hands and being able to thank people who served our country so bravely is an experience I won't soon forget.  I'm still choked up just thinking about it.

God bless America and the world.
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com  -  Joanna Jenkins


Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America's veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.

Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society. Now, with over 800 World War II veterans dying each day, our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.

Photo Credit: © grgroup - Fotolia.com

28 comments:

  1. I saw this on the PBS News Hour last night, and now I've read your post and I'm STILL crying. Just a beautiful thing that is being done for these wonderful people. (sniff)

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  2. oh that is awesome...what a sight to see it would have been to be there...its a beautiful thing...and it helps us remember as well what this holiday is all about...beautiful...

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  3. Even reading this gives me goosebumps. I bet they were so happy to be honored in this way!

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  4. Our Daughter and her family are very active in this fantastic program. I can understand why you were crying, it's just a very emotional thing and such an honor to gives these hero's the respect they so richly deserve. I've often thought of accompanying someone on an honor flight, perhaps I should before it's to late.

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  5. I would have cried like a baby too, to see those men, all 80 and above, and to honor their service, quite a great experience for you and all who were there.

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  6. Just reading your post brought tears to my eyes! I'm sure I would have been crying too, if I'd been there. What a wonderful event!

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  7. What a sight to see. I'm so glad they were honored in that way. I'm sure each of them has a really interesting story to tell and they deserve all the honor we can give them.

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  8. Lest we forget, as I've been saying to everyone.

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  9. That war was so difficult and deadly for our troops, I feel lucky just being on the same planet with them at the same time.

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  10. What a priviledge to have been there to see such an outpouring of love and support. I got teary-eyed reading your story. I can't imagine how emotional it must have been to be there in person!

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  11. I have goosebumps reading this. What an amazing thing to be part of!
    PS - I'm probably way late but I just noticed your honor from Huffington post. Congrats - that's awesome!

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  12. This is so very touching! I'm so happy these heros got such a wonderful reception!

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  13. What a wonderful opportunity for you to be part of making their journey memorable.

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  14. The number of WWII vets is shrinking quickly these days. So glad these heroes were honored. It makes me think of my Dad and my FIL, both gone, yet never far away. So glad you got to be a part of the celebration. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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  15. What a wonderful story of open gratitude to our veterans.

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  16. Just as it should always be. I'm so glad that they got this well-deserved reception. They are so appreciated. I'm glad for you that you were part of it.

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  17. So very cool! Glad you were part of it!

    10 years ago on my daughter's Make a Wish trip to Hawaii we had the privilege of meeting a WWII vet and his wife at our hotel. I took a photo of him and his wife and mailed it to them when we returned home. Last month I received a letter in the mail from the man's sister. She found the letter and photo I had mailed to them and she wanted to thank me for helping make their trip a memorable one. They had been back to see Pearl Harbor where he was on "that day," and had a wonderful trip.

    Happy Tuesday!

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  18. I don't really even know people in the military, but I am such a sucker for big welcomes at airports and I teared up just reading your experience. That must have been so amazing to witness and be a part of it.

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  19. God bless for sure...what a wonderful commotion! A welcoming parade. That is so beautiful!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  20. I'm all choked up now, too. How awesome to get to participate in their welcome.

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  21. I heard about the Honor Flight program but did not know they received such a great and well-deserved reception. Airports can be enjoyable places at times. Thanks for the post.

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  22. Because we are in Washington DC we and live next to Arlington Cemetery, we see all kinds of visitors. These Honor Flight guys and gals are the best our country has ever produced. Dianne

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  23. So cool that you got to experience this! My dad served in WWII on a naval ship. He's 92 and in the nursing home, so he can't travel anymore. Still, it's neat that some of the soldiers can and get to go see their memorial.

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  24. How cool that you got to be part of this great event...and even cooler that you were in my beloved home state and airport! Now I know you want to come live there with me, doncha?!?!?!?

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  25. You were definitely meant to be part of the welcoming committee that day. What a blessing.

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  26. i loved this. thanks for re-filling my soul today.

    (and thanks for stopping by!)

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  27. My uncle was part of an Honor Flight several years ago. A wonderful and moving program!

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Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I really appreciate it.