How many times have you seen a Veteran--whether it’s at work or just out and about? The one thing that just "makes their day" is to say “thank you for your service.”
My husband, Pat, and I recently had the experience of being Guardians for Veterans on a Southeast Florida Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. We both felt it could be our way of saying "thank you" to those who had selflessly served our country during World War II. As an Employee for Southwest Airlines, volunteering for an Honor Flight was near and dear to my heart. I knew that Southwest is a corporate sponsor for the Honor Flight Network, and some tickets had been donated towards this particular flight.
My Dad was a proud Veteran of World War II, so I grew up with a great love of country and Veterans. But nothing could have ever prepared me for this trip to the WWII Memorial and Iwo Jima Memorial. From the start of the trip with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office motorcycle escort and the U.S. Military Vets Motorcycle Club stopping traffic and escorting us all the way to the airport, to the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Pipes and Drum, plus their Honor Guard, as well as the TSA Honor Guard at the airport, it was amazing. At the boarding gates were The Women Of Note, an a cappella group volunteering their time to sing all types of patriotic songs. Everyone was saying “thank you” in their own way to the veterans.
After a thrilling water cannon salute send-off and a similar arrival salute in Baltimore/Washington, our group of 134 could not have been more surprised at what came next. As we exited the jebridge, and lined up on both sides were military personnel, Honor Flight volunteers, Southwest Employees, and Passengers, and the line continued on and on out into the concourse. They were ALL applauding and kept applauding and were shaking the hands and thanking all the Veterans. They didn’t stop until the very last person came through that line! There were tears in the eyes of every Veteran and every Guardian on that flight!
Each photo with the Veterans, each pause to gaze at the Memorials, each story that we were told that day made us appreciate all the Veterans that have ever served this country. It was a great honor and an experience of a lifetime for both of us. When the trip officially ended, we said our "so-longs" but not our good-byes. We’re all going to keep in touch and without exception, always keep saying “thank you” to the Veterans.