Honor Flight May 21
Todayís generation will pay tribute to World War II veterans with another Flight of Honor to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. May 21.
Rotary District 7680 will send 120 veterans on its sixth Flight of Honor that day. Nearly 600 veterans ó men and women, from all branches of the military ó have been on the previous five Flights of Honor.
The one-day trip is free for the veterans. Ages of the veterans have ranged from 80 to 101. Some have walked unassisted. Others have used walkers. Still others have used wheelchairs.
The veterans have filed toward security checkpoints at the airport down an aisle of American flags held by members of the Patriot Guard and have been sent off in the morning by high school Junior ROTC honor guards.
On arrival at Reagan National Airport in Washington, they have been greeted by members of the USO, members of the Honor Flight volunteer organization, bands and more flags.
Their buses have been escorted to the World War II Memorial by veteransí motorcycle groups. They have been greeted there by lawmakers, children the age of their great grandchildren and people of all ages who wanted to thank them for their service.
When they have arrived back at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the veterans have been greeted by hundreds of people, including family members, friends, Rotarians and other people in the terminal. Again, the Patriot Guard has provided an aisle of American flags for their exit from the security area.
ěWe do these Flights of Honor as a small measure of our appreciation for what these veterans did for us, ěsaid Kelly Morris of Gastonia, co-chair of the Flight of Honor Committee.
ěThey saved the world from domination by Japanese militarism, German Nazism and Italian fascism. We owe them a lot more than their one-day Flight of Honor. The youngest of these men and women are now in their 80s. Most are in their late 80s or in their 90s. We have only a small window of time to honor them.î
Each flight costs more than $60,000 for chartering the airplane, four buses in Washington, lunch, wheelchair rentals and other items necessary for the flight.
Co-Chair Steve Driscoll of Gastonia said, ěWe need the publicís help to pay for these flights. Individual Rotarians and Rotary Clubs have paid a lot toward the first five flights, but we have had and continue to need the help of companies, organizations, foundations and members of the public to continue this project.î
If a company wants to honor employees who served in World War II, Driscoll said, the company can sponsor one or more at $500 for each veteran. Families that had members serving in World War II could sponsor a veteran in memory of their family members who served.
ěIf there are people who want to help, but canít afford to sponsor a veteran, gifts of any size help,î Driscoll said.
Contributions are tax deductible and may be sent to Rotary Flight of Honor, P.O. Box 495, Gastonia, NC 28053.
Further information about the Rotary District 7680 Flight of Honor is available at www.flightofhonor.org/.
The 53 Rotary Clubs in District 7680 includes clubs in Anson, Ashe, Alleghany, Alexander, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Richmond, Rowan, Stanly, Union and Wilkes counties.