Some folks have asked us how we find ways to meet veterans, and though it is pretty broad, probably the best answer is Honor Flight. Honor Flight's mission is to bring veterans free of charge to their memorials in D.C. It is often times a life changing experience for these dear veterans, opening the door for them to speak about the war for the first time, bringing closure to the years of silent pain they endured as they wondered "Why me? Why did I make it out all right and so many didn't?" Through the HF program, we have had the most incredible opportunities for meeting the most wonderful people.
Last year, we went to the WWII Memorial in D.C. for a week to greet Honor Flights, the climax being a special Super Saturday when over 500 WWII veterans arrived at the Memorial on one day. For hours, busses of WWII veterans from all over the country arrived en masse. One from New York was hard to miss with their strong Yonkers accents and high energy. Another from Colorado came bringing a dignified excitement. Tennessee's veterans were country boys, with their deep southern accents. And if you had read the list of names from the Ohio flight, you would have known instantly that most of the veterans were first generation Americans. All ages (86-104), all backgrounds; such a diversity and such an experience! Some of the dear friends we made that day we would never have met had they not been brought together from all four corners of the U.S. through the wonderful people at Honor Flight. Each state has several hubs which send flights off at different times of the year.
For veteran and volunteer alike, it is truly a life-changing experience. If you can't be a guardian, at least come out to one of the HF "Welcome Home" celebrations. It is an awesome and emotional event; guaranteed you will not be the same!