American Legion Post 156, to which I belong, provides “guardians” to assist veterans being brought to the Washington area to visit our national monuments. We load the veterans on busses and transport them to D.C. We do this in cooperation with the Honor Flight Network. Here’s what the network says on its web site:
“Our Mission: To transport America’s Veterans to Washington, DC to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends.
“Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.
“Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. Our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.”
The Honor Flight Network operates 131 hubs in 45 states and has used 17,655 guardians—volunteers to accompany and help the veterans during the trips. It sponsored 20,327 visitors in 2017, the most recent year for which complete data is available. It is, in short, a very large undertaking.
My American Legion post is gathering veterans from Maryland and Delaware for the Honor Flight trip to view the monuments on 11 May. Upon return from the tour, the veterans will gather for a celebration at our post. I’m honored to be the keynote speaker at the event. It will be my privilege to thank and esteem the men who put their lives on the line for the good of the nation. I’m humbled by the honor.