Through a dear friend, I had discovered something called "Honor Flight" in which local volunteers from the local American Legion and various other military related groups sponsored free flights to Washington, DC for WWII vets to see their memorial and spend the day in our nation's capital. Often these men were in wheel chairs and had to have volunteers wheeling them around and medical staff on standby to handle any problems. On these flights, these vets were sent off and greeted home with military fanfare and crowds waving flags. This dear friend convinced me that my late father should be included-but how? Simple-the Honor FLight flag ceremony.
His flag. You see, whenever a veteran dies, the US Government sends the family a US flag to drape over the coffin and the flag is kept in the family. After my mother died in 2009, in sorting out her things, I came across my father's flag, still wrapped in the delivery plastic to preserve it. (My mom never got rid of anything and would often wrap everything in plastic with a rubber band around it!!!) Further research turned up my father's military records from WWII so with this friend's help I put in an application for my father's flag to be carried to Washington DC.
I also attended an Honor Flight ceremony prior to presenting MY father's flag to see how things were done and realized that this very personal remembrance would be honored and cherished and well-preserved in flight. The family writes a simple biography of the departed loved one and this bio is read as the family comes forward to present the flag. It is received by the local group taking the flag on the flight. After a ceremony in Washington DC, the flags are flown back and presented back to the families the next day. I was convinced that my father's flag needed to go.
While the flag did not go on the Huntsville, Alabama Honor Flight I saw due to logistical problems (and the dear friend whom I wanted to take my father's flag was unable to go) a second chance presented itself about a month later. Through contacts from the Huntsville Honor Flight I found one of the three gentlemen who sponsored the LOCAL Honor Flight and found that they were making a trip in April of 2010. I called one of these gentlemen, met with him, explained my story and asked if he would take my father's flag on the next trip. He said he would be proud to do so.
The flight left on April 17, 2010. What happened next humbled my soul and made my father's memory more special.
The local NBC affiliate station covered the story-sending one of the reporters to Washington. When her story aired, to my surprise, there was my father's flag being featured. The brave soldier who carried the flag openly wept as he told the reporter that I had called him and asked him to bring the flag. I later discovered through correspondence with the reporter that she saw the flag at the state portion of the memorial. Since it was the only flag on the trip, she asked about it and was told that flags could be carried for soldiers who had died before getting to come to the memorial. When the soldier was telling her about the flag he said "He got here". And so my father joined his comrades in arms once again through the efforts of this gentleman.
On my video page here are links to both the story as it aired locally and the video I created.
As we celebrate this 4th, let us not forget our vets and those who are still fighting so we can be free.