Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Honoring Our Heros

This past Friday, David (aka Mr. Man) accompanied his 92-year-old father, Arnold Cotton, on a free trip to Washington, D.C. as part of West Georgia Honor Flight, which flies veterans to visit their national memorials (priority is given to WWII veterans). Arnold was a Sergent in the Marines during WWII, stationed in the Pacific.

Departing Columbus, GA on a 6:00am chartered flight, they arrived in D.C. to a welcoming reception. From there they boarded buses to take them to the memorials, each bus equipped with its own medical team. Several times during the day, tourists, both young and old (and not associated with Honor Flight), approached Arnold to thank him and shake his hand.

At the Iwo Jima Memorial, Arnold and two other veterans were honored to be chosen to lay a wreath, and enjoyed chatting with fellow Marine Sgt. Miles Johnson, with whom Arnold shared a photo of himself as a young Marine, some 60-65 years ago. (Arnold was also interviewed on-site by the Columbus Ledger as well as his local Macon newspaper after his return home.)

Even though Arnold is a world traveler, he expressed that this was the "trip of a lifetime." I know David feels the same way, grateful to have the opportunity to share this experience with his dad.

Honor Flight arranged for family and friends to send letters of gratitude ahead of the trip to be shared with the veterans on their return flight. As I sat at the breakfast table with Arnold on Saturday morning while these were read to him, I can tell you firsthand how much they were appreciated... he was beaming, and hasn't stopped. And, even though their flight back to Columbus didn't arrive until after 10:00pm, there were approximately 1,000 people waiting to greet the returning heroes with signs and cheers. No opportunity to share love and appreciation was overlooked.

If you know a WWII veteran who would like to make this trip (or if you would like to make a donation to this wonderful organization), go to Honor Flight Network to find the schedule of trips from your area. All veterans must be accompanied by a companion who has to pay for their own flight, but to borrow from a popular advertisement, sharing time with your father as he is honored for his service in WWII...priceless!

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