Last April, I attended the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight Homecoming in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The following is taken from the Stars and Stripes website: “The Greatest Generation is slowly fading away, and Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has pledged to celebrate each and every remaining WWII and Korean War hero before it is too late. We honor all veterans by flying WWII, Korean War and terminally ill veterans from other conflicts to Washington, DC to visit their memorials. Help us to find these veterans and reward them with a day planned just for them. This is our mission and our duty.”
After each of these Honor Flights, friends, family, and community members are invited to attend the Homecoming at the airport. We attended as supporters of a dear family friend, but I do encourage everyone to attend one of these events, even if you do not know anyone personally on the flight.
The organizers ask that you arrive several hours in advance, which means that you do have some time to pass. But this means that you have ample time to work on those posters!
Some folks spent their time playing games,
and checking their watch. 🙂
I enjoyed walking around to people watch and admire the pictures and signs.
As more and more people squeezed into the concourse, the excitement and anticipation grew.
(The poster below was an especially impressive piece of artwork!)
The Star and Stripes Honor Flight organization had volunteers walking around with placards and were available to answer questions.
It became a long night for some of the little ones,
but when the veterans made their grand entrance, everyone was suddenly energized and on their feet.
You couldn’t help but smile as you watched the veterans go through – greeted by friends and strangers alike.
The pride was shown by the grins, and the eyes glistening with tears.
The quote on the shirt below is from the official Stars and Stripes Honor Flight store, it reads:
“We all can’t be heroes, some of us get to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.” -Will Rogers
After the veterans all passed, current members of the military filed through. They had greeted the veterans has they first came off the flight. I wonder how many in the crowd were having flashbacks as they watched the young, uniformed faces walk by.
The book “Honor Flight: A Visual Journey” includes a passage from the documentary Honor Flight by Charles Sykes, from a conversation with one of the veterans as they walk into the homecoming event. It reads as follows:
“I was walking next to one of the guys and he said, ‘This is like heaven.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he sad, ‘It’s like seeing all the people you loved and cared about. It’s like having your whole life before you and realizing that what you did mattered. That it was actually worth it. To see my grandkids and my kids…” That is a powerful moment.
Here are some links for additional information:
Our previous trip to a Stars and Stripes Homecoming