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blakeloke

Salute to our Veterans - Honor Flight

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I'm not a veteran of the US Armed Forces but wanted to give a shout out to those that are and served in one of our oversees conflicts.  Thank You!

Also, wanted to give accolades to a group that honors our veterans in a very special way.  This group is called Honor Flight.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend an Honor Flight as a "guardian" for my father-in-law" who served in the US Army during the Korean war.  There are about 140 Honor Flight hubs throughout the US and the group we went with originated out of Kern County and the Central Coast of California.  For this flight, we had two WWII vets, several Korean and Vietnam vets and a guardian who received the Purple Heart in Afghanistan.  As a quick note: each of the veterans are assigned a "guardian" to help with ambulatory issues if needed, carry bags and insure comfort.  The honoree does not pay for the trip which includes all meals, airfare, hotel and bus transportation throughout the entire trip.  The guardian pays just enough to cover expenses.

My father-in-law really wasn't interested in taking the trip.  But, family and friends convinced him to.  I'm glad he accepted because he had a very good time and his faith in the American public was renewed and restored to an all-time high.

From the provided clothing and organization, it was obvious everywhere we went that this was a group of US military veterans.  The first hint of recognition was from the flight deck of the American Airlines plane captain announcing the Honor Flight veterans then a huge round of applause from the cabin.  At the terminal, American Airlines had decorated the arrival and departure gates and made loudspeaker announcements.  It was heartwarming to see the entire terminal salute and applaud the veterans and we made our way through the airports.  Not just some of the travelers but all of them turned, lined the terminal walkway and applauded.  Many folks stopped us to shake hands, give hugs & salutes, and voice a warm thank you.

This behavior was not limited to the airports.  We saw it everywhere we went, from the hotel, each of the memorials, Arlington, the Pentagon, on the floor of the House with Kevin McCarthy, the National Archives.  Tour groups, school children, foreign visitors and other visiting veterans gave our honorees the due respect they earned.  Honestly, my father-in-law told me he teared up several times and got goose bumps because of the lavish attention.

It was a jam packed trip but so well organized that we were able to see most of the memorials and a lot of other bonuses.  Our WWII veterans were able to place a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier during the ceremony of the changing of the guards!

Seeing all this in just a few short days was made possible by the National Park Police who provided lights and sirens escorts for our bus.  When in town they stopped traffic at lights and intersections.  When on the highway they stopped and moved traffic over so the bus could pass through.  They gave us special parking rights at Arlington and the National Archives where the veterans had just a few feet to go to see the attraction.

Finally, a special thanks to the volunteers, sponsors and corporate donors who make this trip possible for our veterans.  If you are a veteran of WWII, Korea or Vietnam, or know one, please gather some information of Honor Flight (google) and find a hub close to you.  Sign-up and go on the trip - you will have a renewed sense of patriotism for our country!

Blake

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