Organization Honors Vets with Trip to DC Memorials for Veterans Day

One organization is pulling out all the stops for the men and women who served in the American military.

Honor Flight Network, a non-profit that covers the transportation costs for veterans to go see the memorials dedicated in their honor, celebrated Veterans Day in Washington, D.C.

The organization paid for the flights of numerous veterans so they could witness the new Veterans Day exhibit recently unveiled at the National Archives Museum.

It was a special day for the many veterans who were able to experience the memorials made specifically for them.

“Honor Flight Network is a band of volunteers all across the country and we bring veterans out here to see their long-awaited memorials,” Honor Flight Network co-founder Earl Morse said in an interview with The Western Journal.

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Morse has made it his life’s work to give back to veterans and let them know just how respected they are.

“We have WWII, Korea, Vietnam veterans that we bring out here. Absolutely free. They don’t pay a penny. The program started in 2005 and this year we will have transported over 200,000 WWI, Korean veterans here to see America’s ‘Thank you’ for their service,” he explained.

As a physician assistant and retired Air Force captain, Morse finds special meaning in the work of Honor Flight Network.

Many of the WWII and Vietnam War veterans who participate in the program are in their golden years of life and do not have the time or resources to fly to Washington on their own accord. Honor Flight Network, with the help of charitable donations, is able to fly veterans out to experience these memorials at no cost to them.

Morse explained why so many thousands of veterans partake in the program.

“They come out for two main reasons. Reason number one: they want to see how their nation is going to recognize their accomplishment. But a second reason — and it may be more important: they want to see how their buddies are going to be remembered,” Morse said, a clear sense of passion emanating as he spoke.

“Their friend that never made it out of the plane, didn’t make it across the field, they didn’t make it onto the beach. Their buddies — still 18, 19 years old, still in uniform in their minds.”

“Especially with WWII veterans, when they come out here, they’re usually the sole survivor of that tank or that ship, or that plane. So when they walk in here, they come representing all their buddies.”

A curator for the the National Archives noted that the special Veterans Day event is celebrated annually at the museum. In fact, the museum is able to showcase new memorabilia every year.

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The work the organization does in conjunction with the National Archives is priceless for the many veterans who would have otherwise never had a chance to visit these exhibits. According to USA Today, around 16 million Americans served in WWII. As of 2014, only about 1 million WWII vets are still alive, with over 400 of them dying every day.

As onlookers walked through the special Veterans Day exhibit, The Western Journal caught up with one Vietnam War veteran, Pedro, to ask him how he felt about the experience.

“I’m just very blessed to be here today. It’s very moving,” he said.

“It’s just kind of overwhelming. Like I said, in the hour they allow us to be here, it’s not enough time to do. I’m just blessed.”

Jason Hopkins is The Western Journal’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.