Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Honoring America’s Heroes

Smiling faces, heavy hearts, and American patriotism was what I saw and felt as the honor flight Veterans emerged from the gate at the Ronald Reagan National Airport. I clapped, said “welcome to DC,” and waved my flag as I greeted the men who fought tirelessly for my freedom, and for the freedom of those around me. Watching them walk in, some more solemn then others, I couldn’t help but wonder what exactly was going through their mind as they stepped off that plane. How were they feeling about their time serving our country? Did they lose friends in the war? How did it cause them to suffer?  Some of their smiles, their waves, and their pride that radiated from their faces made my eyes fill with tears. I was filled with thankfulness as I honored their lives and their time spent serving our country. 

My favorite part of the day was spent at the Vietnam veteran’s memorial wall.  As I walked with the Veterans, I continued to think and wonder what was going on in their minds as they viewed the names of those who died, and the names of those who were not found. I couldn’t imagine the memories that the memorials were provoking and I thought about the bravery that it took for the Veterans to be there. Looking at their memorial was like looking their past, their service, and their dedication to our country in the face. Some may have thought of fond memories, while some could have thought of the worst memories of their life. I honored them as they faced whatever memories the war brought them as they walked beside the memorial wall. 

My heart was full as we continued the walk when one of the Veterans asked me to help him find the names of two of his friends who died in the war.  I pulled out my smart phone and found the location of his friends’ names on the wall and we found both of them. He shared with me the few memories he had with them, where they died, and why he wanted to see their names. I took a picture of him beside his friends’ names and I continued to be in awe of the bravery that it took to look the war that you served in, in the face.  I couldn’t fathom having to find my friends’ names on a wall that represented their death, and my survival. 

The honor flight experience placed me at a very reflective spirit. I left feeling grateful, inspired, and proud of those who served our country so well, and those who sacrificed so much so that the rest of us could live in freedom and in peace.

By Hannah Winters
Hannah is an intern working with NHPCO’s communications team this summer. She is a junior at Ball State University in Indiana working toward her Bachelor of Science in English Studies, with minors in Political Science in Professional Writing.  

Every summer, NHPCO welcomes student interns who are involved in a wide range of projects for the organization and its affiliates. This summer, our three interns participated in an Honor Flight event in DC and we asked them to share their experience. This is the second of three blogs that will run this week.  See blog #1, "Some Wounds Never Heal."

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