Letter: 'Honor' truly describes Washington tripI was fortunate to be a guardian and accompany my father on the final Southwest Minnesota Honor Flight that took 109 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 29, 2011.
By: Mary Fake, Willmar, Worthington Daily Globe
I was fortunate to be a guardian and accompany my father on the final Southwest Minnesota Honor Flight that took 109 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 29, 2011. “Honor” is truly a word that describes the trip. It was an amazing experience to travel with humble vets who answered their call of duty to keep our nation free. I wish to thank the generous people and businesses who made this trip possible. It took an incredible amount of time and money to coordinate every detail.
The banquet in Luverne was the starting point for the entire group to start new friendships and be treated royally. Thanks to the people who honored the World War II veterans, from the 4:30 a.m. group that cheered as we left Luverne to the large group of children, adults and Patriot Guards that cheered as we left and returned to the Sioux Falls airport. I visited with one Patriot Guard who left his home at 3:30 a.m. to arrive at the Sioux Falls airport for the sendoff. I will never forget the smiles and tears of the veterans as they were honored like celebrities.
After a wonderful Heroes Banquet hosted in Alexandria, Va., many of the veterans shared some of their military stories. Throughout the trip, more shared their stories as friendships grew. It was amazing to hear some of their experiences and the trials they endured.
Watching and listening to the veterans visit the memorials brought waves of emotions. Watching a veteran point to his tour of duty at a memorial brings a different reality to the memorial. When visitors realized World War II veterans were at the memorials, they asked veterans to have their photos taken with them like celebrities.
On the flight home, each veteran received a large envelope of letters from children thanking them for their service. This act of kindness brought great joy to the veterans as they read and shared their treasured letters.
Special thanks to the Daily Globe and their staff — Joni Harms, Julie Buntjer and Brian Korthals — for their incredible coverage honoring the WWII veterans. Thanks for the leadership to Terrie Gulden, Glen Gust, Bob Douty, Jane Wildung Lanphere, the medical team and countless others. Another thanks to Jon Lindstrand, who coordinated and transported the Willmar-area group.
Thanks for the incredible honor of our World War II veterans!