As people count their blessings this Thanksgiving week, our military veterans should not be forgotten.
Because of Honor Flight, they haven’t been.
Thirteen Sauk Valley area veterans came back recently from a whirlwind trip to see military memorials in Washington, D.C.
They are the latest local bunch to be the recipients of all-expenses-paid trips to tour the nation’s capital and experience the nation’s thankfulness for their service.
The Honor Flight movement sprang up after completion of the National World War II Memorial in 2004. Regionally, Honor Flight of the Quad Cities was formed, then affiliates were organized in Whiteside County (2009) and Lee County (2010).
The first order of business was to raise money to pay for the trips. We continue to be amazed at the generosity of area residents toward this worthy cause.
The next step was to line up as many World War II veterans as possible to take the initial Honor Flight trips, as time is running out for their generation.
Then, Korean War veterans are to be given preference, followed by Vietnam War veterans.
So far, it looks like the Honor Flight “battle plan” is working.
Fewer World War II veterans are taking the trips now, as the demand from veterans of that era (1941-45) has been mostly satisfied.
Now, the focus will be on veterans of the Korean War (1950-53). According to the Quad Cities group, 700 Korean War veterans have signed up for trips, which generally are taken in the spring and fall to avoid hot summers and cold winters.
Terminally ill veterans of any era remain top priorities, organizers say. Two terminally ill veterans took the November flight.
People can say they are thankful for veterans and their service. Honor Flight provides a way to actually demonstrate that thankfulness.
Five more flights are planned for next year. They will cost money.
During Thanksgiving week, keep in mind how the Honor Flight program is a tangible way to show gratitude toward veterans.
The next opportunity you have to donate to Honor Flight, please do so.