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.
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