September 19th will be like Christmas morning for approximately 70 veterans of the “Greatest Generation” as they gather at the First United Methodist Church in Fayetteville for breakfast and to board buses for Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. They are also provided with lanyards and Honor Flight Fayette t-shirts to wear during the day, which is totally free of cost to them. This is just the first step in a day long journey dedicated as a “thank you” gesture to them for their valiant service during World War II.
As the buses get under way, they will be escorted by Patriot Guard members as well as law enforcement officers from Fayetteville, Fayette County and Peachtree City. The public is encouraged to line the streets by 6:30 a.m. that Saturday morning with flags and banners to give the veterans a spirited sendoff.
After a short flight to D.C., they will land at Ronald Reagan Airport where they are greeted by military personnel from different branches of the service who have requested the day off specifically to be with and assist guardians with the veterans. The veterans will then board motor coaches for their comfort during the day. Although the World War II Memorial is the main feature, they will ride by the memorials for Iwo Jima, the Korean War, Viet Nam and Arlington National Cemetery. Time permitting, stops will be made at these locations also.
The veterans’ visit to “their” memorial is always one of mixed emotions, and very often tears can be seen in their eyes as well as those of the guardians who are there to help them through the day. Sometimes they share stories as they walk around the memorial, and sometimes they just reflect in silence because memories are too poignant or too painful.
After they return from these trips to D.C., veterans have often said that it was the most wonderful day of their lives, second only to marriage or the birth of children. However, the guardians who accompany them, and pay their way to do so, will tell you it was one of the most special days of their lives also.
Honor Flight Fayette is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which is staffed totally by dedicated volunteers whose only purpose is to honor and say “thank you” to the brave veterans of World War II. If you would like to learn more about Honor Flight Fayette, become a volunteer or make a donation, please check honorflightfayette.org or P. O. Box 1209, Fayetteville, GA, 30214.
Photo: Brenda Smith, Publicity Chair for Honor Flight Fayette, stands beside the banner which is a reminder of the upcoming flight on September 19th!
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