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.
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