The Honor Flight Philadelphia Experience - By Marvin Cadet
I volunteered on behalf of Operation College Promise and the Got Your 6 campaign to photograph the Honor Flight Philadelphia. Honor Flight is an effort to give World War II veterans the welcome home they didn’t receive when they came back from serving our nation.
On June 15, 2013, 6 buses loaded with 150 World War II veterans and volunteer guardians were loaded up from Springfield, PA and convoyed down to Washington D.C to view the World War II Memorial. Along the way we made some amazing stops for these heroes.
The first stop on the itinerary was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where we got the opportunity to watch the changing of the guard ceremony. The soldiers involved in the ceremony skid there leg one time during the ceremony in recognition of the presence of the greatest generation of veterans.
Next, was the Women’s Memorial where the first female Brigadier General paid tribute to four women veterans that were part of our group for their service during the war. We also got to see the Air Force Memorial. Next to the Air Force memorial is the area of the Pentagon that was attacked during 9/11.
Seeing the Lincoln Memorial, I think was the highlight for me. The Civil War is one of the most noteworthy points in American history. The energy around the Lincoln Memorial was unbelievable - true reminder of how far we have come as a nation. Around this Memorial, you can also find the Vietnam as well the Korean War Memorial. Some of the volunteer guardians were actually veterans of these war efforts and were very touched by the sentiment.
The World War II Memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004, and was dedicated on Saturday, May 29, 2004. Honor Flight surprised their veterans with a visit from family members they haven’t seen in a while at the Memorial.
Upon reentering Pennsylvania, state police stopped traffic on the highway. There was an escort for the buses provided by the American Legion Riders. The fire departments for respected towns on the way to Springfield were on the bridges with flags flying high to pay respect to these heroes. Swoops, the Philadelphia Eagles masco, made an appearance along with some Eagles cheerleaders.
The day was capped off with dinner and a performance by The Manhattan Dolls. It was a great day and a great experience. Honor Flight is a program that takes place all over the country. Anyone can volunteer to be a guardian for a World War II veteran and spend the day engaging in great camaraderie.
Check out their website at http://www.honorflight.org/ and if you’re interested, become a guardian.