The quiet of morning was disrupted by the sound of big, growling engines. Motorcycles and a sheriff’s jeep, headlights cutting the misty morning, descended on the house next door. A woman in a fluffy turquoise bathrobe looked on anxiously.
It sounds scary. It sounds threatening. But it brought delight and honor to the man who lives next door to us.
Our neighbor is Bob and he’s an 88-year-old veteran of Word War II. Today is his big day, to go on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., to be feted and to visit the World War II Memorial. It is his tour of honor.
The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization, founded in 1995 to honor America’s veterans for their service and sacrifices. Veterans are transported to Washington, with volunteers who are committed to making the trip easy and stress-free. Every detail is attended to so that these men can travel safely and feel special at every turn.
At this stage, Honor Flight gives top priority to senior veterans–the surviving World War II veterans–as well as to veterans who are terminally ill. The veterans are taken to the memorial for the war in which they served. The long-term plan is to extend the honors to veterans of the Korean War and Vietnam War, as well.
But today is Bob’s day! Bob enlisted in the Navy when he was 17. He saw the world, for all its good and bad, he became a man, and he was lucky enough to come home. He made a critical contribution that all Americans benefit from every day.
He so deserves to be recognized and honored, and he was thrilled beyond measure for this big day. His wife, she of the fluffy turquoise bathrobe, said he hadn’t slept for two nights. He was outside early this morning, wearing his Honor Flight shirt, his Honor Flight jacket, and his Honor Flight ball cap. And a big grin!
And down the road, out here in the middle of nowhere, came three huge motorcycles and the big Jeep. The sheriff of a neighboring county will be Bob’s guardian for the day, committed to making the day easy and perfect. The motorcycle drivers are volunteers, providing the motorcade and the thrill of having a motorcade, because they believe in what they’re doing—they are veterans of combat themselves.
They arrived. They stood tall and saluted Bob and said, “Thank you for your service, sir.” Bob’s wife asked him if he had his Kleenex. She and I might’ve needed Kleenex, too.
They helped Bob into the car and revved their motors and whisked him off to meet other veterans in town, for ceremonies at the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. Then they’ll have a ceremony at the airport, before heading to Washington and a ceremony at the World War II Memorial.
They’ll be back tonight, returning to a welcoming ceremony at the airport. That’s a lot of ceremonies packed into one day and a lot of happy, exhausted men. Bob hasn’t slept for the last two nights but I bet he will tonight!
All Americans sleep more easily because of men like Bob.
We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.” Will Rogers
We also have Honor Flights in my area, its such a great program.
What a great day for Bob. The Honor flights are a wonderful idea. As I was telling gpcox the other day http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/intermission-stories-17/ 38 of our WW2 veterans have been taken on their ‘honour’ flight to the 70th Anniversary of Monte Cassino. http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/10044499/Veterans-to-commemorate-Monte-Cassino These trips for our veterans are so appreciated. And I needed a Kleenex for your story too.
I’m glad to hear that your vets are being honored, too. It’s so happy-making to see the thrill they get from being treated with such respect!
Long overdue. Do you think he would give you a post trip interview?
I’ve talked to him some about it–he was exhausted but transported with emotion. What a fine thing!
Lovely to hear.
I had originally heard about this program on NPR. Its such a great way to honor these special individuals. What an incredible journey it must have been for Bob and how wonderful that he is your neighbor. I must say he is a very handsome fellow at 88!
Isn’t he handsome? And he’s such a good guy–I’m looking forward to hearing how his day went!
Oh how wonderful! How exciting for Bob and his wife and the whole neighbourhood. I am so pleased to hear of the honour and respect which they are bestowing upon Bob today. He deserves it.
He does deserve it! Apparently about 15 others were honored, too, from around the area. I guess every detail was considered to make it a great day!
Clapping from the UK xxx
I hope your veterans are honored in similar ways!
I’m not sure they are..there is a lovely church in the Strand dedicated to them.. xxx
Fantastic idea! X
Yes, the founder deserves a lot of admiration!
That’s a lovely story, well told!
Thanks! It was an easy story to write–because it was so full of emotion!
This post really touched me! And what a great program to honour these men. Say ‘hi’ to Bob from me 🙂
I will do that! He’ll be tickled!
I hope Bob had a marvelous day yesterday and that he had sweet dreams last night.
I think he slept very hard and long–even when I saw him later, he was exhausted. But SO happy!
How wonderful for Bob to be honoured so, the younger generation do need to be reminded of how their lifestyle has been fought for in the past.
I agree! And, apparently, there were lots of Boy Scouts and other kids at the airport to see the veterans off–everything about this was so well planned and nice!
It’s awesome that Bob is receiving this recognition. He’s very deserving of it.
Absolutely! He’s one of those guys who lied about his age in order to enlist–he was just a boy. He’s had a fascinating life.
How exciting! By coincidence, I have a neighbor, also named Bob, who is a 90 year old WWII vet, and I recently helped him fill out the application to go on a Honor Flight. It sounds like a terrific experience!
Oh, how great–I hope he gets to go! I saw “my” Bob today and he is still talking about it!
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