Sunday, September 26, 2010

Honoring America’s Veterans

Written by: LT Connie Braesch

“Today provides us the opportunity to reflect upon and honor your service – as well as the service of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. You defended our freedoms, and protected our ideals. We must never forget – and never let our children forget that freedom is not free.” – Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Bob Papp

Yesterday, Adm. Papp visited with the more than 100 World War II veterans and their escorts from Central Florida who visited the nation’s capital on the Volusia Honor Air Flight.

The Honor Flight Network – a federal nonprofit organization that transports America’s veterans from all over the nation to Washington, D.C., – brings our war heroes to visit memorials dedicated in honor of their service and sacrifices. Many, if not all, of the veterans who visit the memorials are doing so for the first time and may have never had an opportunity if not for the Honor Flight program.

“Since America felt it was important to build a memorial to the service and the ultimate sacrifice of her veterans, the Honor Flight Network believes it’s equally important that they actually get to visit and experience THEIR memorial.”

This is the philosophy behind the Honor Flight Network’s service, which is provided free to our veterans. What started in May 2005 with the transport of 12 veterans on six small planes has transitioned into commercial airline carriers transporting 17,832 veterans in 2009.

The World War II veterans on the Volusia Honor Air Flight visited the National World War II Memorial along with other national landmarks including lunch in the Montpelier Room at the Library of Congress.

“On behalf of the men and woman currently serving in the armed forces, thank you. Now it’s our duty – our responsibility to safely pass along your story – and continue in your footsteps defending our freedom,” said Papp.

Also participating in yesterday’s welcoming ceremony was Mrs. Patricia Mica, wife of Congressman John Mica (R-7th/FL); Congresswoman Susanne Kosmas (D-24th/FL); and Congressman Steven Buyer (R-4th/IN). Mrs. Mica is also the sponsor of CGC Alligator, out of St. Petersburg, Fla.