Guest Post Madisson Solid: Honor Flight Weekend in Washington DC
My very good friend Madisson Solid flew out to D.C. to be with us for the weekend of Honor Flights. It was a real treat for us to have her with us. She is a lovely person to be around, and I can truly say we would not have accomplished half as much as we did without her up there to be with us. She has very kindly written a guest blogpost for us which gives a great overview of the weekend. Enjoy! -Liberty
Honor Flight Weekend in Washington, D.C.
Going to Washington, D.C. on an Honor Flight is a once-in-a-lifetime event for a veteran - whether WWII, Korea, or Vietnam. Being given this opportunity means so much to these men, and it’s a small way we can show our gratitude by recognizing and thanking them for their service and sacrifice.
On Thursday, it was raining and the interesting thing was to see how the rain made everything all the more sobering. As we handed each veteran a rose, we’d grasp their hand and say, “thank you.”
We met dear Mr. Morrison (a Korean veteran), who talked with us and told us stories throughout his time at the memorial. Faith was able to sing him, which we could see on his face he throughly enjoyed.
Something we noticed this day, and the days following, was that many veterans pushed their own wheelchairs into the memorial, insisting on walking in. That just tugs at one’s heartstrings.
The contrast on Friday was amazing. It was a clear day full of sunshine. After welcoming the last bus of veterans for the day and waving goodbye, we went to Reagan International Airport to welcome the Austin, Texas Honor Flight who would be visiting the memorial the following morning.
One dear WWII veteran started crying after Faith said thank you and handed him a rose. He told us that on his way to D.C., he was so depressed about the road America has gone down, realizing we’re losing our freedoms and everything he and his friends fought and died for 70 years ago. But when he saw us, the next generation, caring about history and the men who fought for our freedoms, it brought tears to his eyes and he said it gave him a renewed hope in America.
In preparation for Super Saturday, we purchased 46 dozen roses, and by the end of the day, we only had a few roses left. Can you imagine that many dear veterans in one place on one day?
Saturday was so amazing; a day I will remember for the rest of my life. 580 veterans from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam were present at the memorial all throughout the day on Saturday. Wow. It’s so difficult to find the proper words to describe this day.
Handing them a rose, we would grasp their hand and say thank you. The impact of the roses was incredible - one would never think a simple flower could bring such joy and open the door so easily to wonderful conversation.
It was so sweet to see the Austin veterans we had met the evening before at the airport, holding the roses we had given them the night before.
Virginia, being the cutie pie of the bunch, literally stole the show. The veterans adored her. She was so sweet and smiley to them, and I’m sure she received a special place in all their hearts. Unfortunately, we all can’t be cute little blonde seven-year olds!
The last WWII veteran we met and talked to on this wonderfully full day was Mr. Cochran from Texas. In 1942 he joined the Navy and was a mechanic on the U.S.S. Puffer. He married his wife Bonnie in 1943 when she was 15 and he 19.
They were married 71 years, until she passed away last November. Isn’t that so incredible? 71 years! We could tell he really missed her - he choked up when talking about her. Two of his grandsons accompanied him to DC. Such lovely people. My heart was so full as we left the memorial that evening, after welcoming, thanking, and hugging all those sweet, dear veterans.
Washington state was the only flight on Sunday, and I’m so glad we were there to greet them. I can only say it was another wonderful, blessed day and we met dear Mr. McGuirk and his son. It was such a good way to end our time in D.C. I can’t imagine us having missed it.
I cannot imagine how brave a person must be to be in harm’s way or dedicate one’s life to protect people he has never met. From the bottom of our hearts we thanked them for their courage, self-sacrifice, and bravery. We thanked them for their service to our country and for putting their lives at stake to protect the freedoms we hold so dearly. We thanked them for believing in the stars and stripes. America is eternally blessed for the presence of men like these who believe liberty is always worth fighting for.
These veterans (whether WWII, Korea, or Vietnam) didn’t fight to receive a thank you. They didn’t risk their lives for this monument in D.C. To be on an Honor Flight is an incredible opportunity and, not to mention, honor.
These veterans would have never asked for an honor like this, but you can see on their faces; it means the world to them. I hope and pray that we were able to convey, albeit inadequately, the gratitude and love we have for each one of them.
I’m so glad I went. It was so humbling, thrilling, sobering, and incredible all at the same time. The veterans are always on my mind, and I know they’ve left a lasting impression on my heart.
(above photo credit: Stephen R. Brown Photography. The amazing Washington photographer. http://stephenbrownstudio.com/ )