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Honor Flight Takes WW II Vets to See Their Memorial

This rarely happens: A story on CNN this morning had me crying in my cereal. The story followed a group of WW II veterans on an escorted VIP trip to DC to see the WW II Memorial.

As those honored by the newest memorial on the Mall are getting up in years, it was a chance many of them never thought they'd have to see it. And the looks on their faces were just . . . almost indescribable. In my personal quest to make Memorial Day about more than just a day off, I investigated a group making these trips possible.

Honor Flight, an organization founded in 2004 by a retired Air Force Captain named Earl Morse, takes veterans on a safe, free trip to see their memorial. Funded almost completely by individual donations, the organization has a trip taking off from Alabama this week. One of the men going said “They just treated us like kings. I’ve never been treated better. It got me so excited about going, I can’t hardly stand it.” A hallmark of the experience are the enthusiastic welcome ceremonies greeting the veterans at the airports. One who took a recent trip said modestly of the fuss, "we didn’t deserve it, but we’ll take it." To see the organization's plans and how you can help,


Honor Flight has 4,000 veterans on their waiting list for a trip. They're accepting applications for guardians, volunteers, and donations. According to their site,

"In 2007, approximately 1,200 World War II Veterans died every DAY. In another 5-10 years almost all of our WWII Veterans will be gone. This trip is their “last hurrah,” the last time they will be recognized as the conquering victors that collectively and literally saved the world."

They've got big goals for '08: transporting 12,000 veterans and expanding from hubs in 30 states to all 50. Though their online donation service wasn't working for me this morning, there's an address and all kinds of emails and phone numbers — I just couldn't be more delighted about this heartwarming organization. I'd love to volunteer. What about you?


Join The Conversation
LilyBiscuit7 LilyBiscuit7 9 years
He's a true hero like so many veterans! I cried father and grandfather served and saved many lives.....they both died too young. I said a prayer for all the veterans.
KJerabek KJerabek 9 years
This man makes me smile. :)
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
Wow. This is an AMAZING cause. I live near DC when I'm home for the summer, and I am DEFINITELY going to get me and my family involved. Thanks for posting this!
nicachica nicachica 9 years
the WWII memorial is so beautiful and it's even more stunning at night when you see it lit up against the Lincoln Memorial! its so majestic and you can't help but feel proud of each soldier's sacrifice. They did an amazing job making a memorial that honors these soldiers. Unfortunately, i never got to know either of my grandfathers as they died before i was born, but i wish i had a chance! In either case, this organization sounds wonderful!
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
My lovely Grandpa is a WWII vet too. He's 86. :) He's taking my entire family on a Scandinavian cruise this summer.
milosmommy milosmommy 9 years
I'm sorry for your recent loss Caterpillar. My Grumpa (that was my name for him..:)) passed 5yrs ago after a long battle with Alzheimers. He too served in WWII. Everytime I see a WWII vet or hear a story I cry. I'm very connected with the American Legion because they do a lot to help the veterans. I wish my Grumpa would have been able to see this. He would have loved it. He and my Grandma used to make a trek from the bay area to Missouri every summer for a reunion with his army buddies. My Grandma has gone with my uncle every year since his passing, but I think this year is the final one. It's just gotten to hard for her, physically and emotionally. Sorry that was a bit long winded. I just get super emotional about this topic. :)
Trixie6 Trixie6 9 years
My grandfather served in WWII. He died before I was born, but my Dad has told me so many stories about him. I really wish I could have met him. My daughter is in DC right now. The eighth graders get to go every year. They went on a tour of the memorials yesterday.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
My grandfather served as well. He was from Germany (off the boat), and came here to fight against the Nazi's. I never met him, he died before I was born, but I do know he received a purple heart.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"Maybe you can set up a link for different charity sites, so this one does not get lost in the shuffle of articles?" That is a great idea! My grandfather served in WWII, and I love hearing his stories.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
My papa died last year, he was a WWII vet flew with the 449th bomber group in italy, he was the ball gunner on a B-24 bomber (which was hilarious because the man was over 6 feet tall, have you ever seen the size of a ball turret? he took off his parachute to fit!) he spent sometimes 10-12 hours in that thing! He once took a sack full of oranges and threw them down at children who waved at them. THey flew 50 missions over enemy territory in Hungary, Germany and Poland. He had a devestating stroke over 20 years ago, which cause paralysis, loss of speech and many more health problems but my Papa never ever stopped laughing, smiling and hugging me. I cry everytime i see an old WW11 vet because i miss him, and because I am so very thankful for what they did.
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
cine, that's a great idea! I'm going to think up a way to put the great cause posts in one spot. Thanks! And I'm glad you all liked the story :)
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
What a nice organization! I'm sure it means a lot to these individuals. I like the WWII memorial. I think they did a beautiful job of integrating it into the mall and keeping the sight line between the Washington monument and the reflecting pool. But some of my friends don't like it too much because they feel it doesn't have the emotional quality that some of the other war memorials do. I'm sure that's not the case for the people who served but for the viewers I can kind of see their point.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
They guy in the pic is hot!
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Kris, I am the same way. On the train ride home from work I pass a Veterans center. All the old men sit outside smoking cigars, and every day I get all choked up.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Not that any Veteran is any less important than another but these WWII vets are significant in that they literally helped to save a continent from dictatorship, repelled enemies from our soil and established a new found respect for the U.S. around the world. Now what we've done to squander that respect is another story, but I am pleased that they got this opportunity.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
cine, i can cry on the spot when I see a soldier in uniform. I saw an old ww2 vet in the grocery store the other day. He was wearing his ballcap with all the little patches on it. I just wanted to hug him!
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
1) The moment I see an old man in uniform I start to cry. I don't know why, but it makes me very emotional. 2) Hubba! Hubba! that man was HOT!!! 3) Maybe you can set up a link for different charity sites, so this one does not get lost in the shuffle of articles? I would love to donate my time and money.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I sometimes cry at the memorials, too, Shop. The Korean one is amazing, too. The detail in some of the faces astounds me.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
this is so great. makes me want to call my gramps.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
I agree lilkimbo. When I went to DC last year w/ my guy we saw the WWII and The Vietnam Memorial Walls and I started crying. Just something inside of me...It made me emotional.
NYFashionista NYFashionista 9 years
Wow thanks for posting this Citizen! What a wonderful organization. Will definitely have to make a donation :)
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I love the WWII memorial. When I first moved to DC, my mom and I walked around and looked at all of the monuments. The way the light hit the stars was amazing. Of course, I love the Korean War and Vietnam Veterans memorials, as well. I think it's great that each memorial is so different from the others.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
not to mention, he is one of the cutest little old men I've ever seen in my life, besides my Paw Paw of course! This guy just has me giggling!
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
sure enough, Liberty!
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Wow. He was hot.
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