World War II Veterans Sought To Participate in Honor Flight Program
It is estimated that around 1200 Word War II veterans die each day. These are the brave men and women who quite literally saved the world. Each day the free air we are blessed to breath was paid for by their service and sacrifice and there is almost no way to really repay them. As close as we civilians can come is to participate in the Honor Flight program, which takes WWII veterans to Washington DC to see the very moving World War II Memorial, which this writer has seen twice and words and photos do not come close to doing it justice. This past week two of Clark County’s veteran’s, Wayne Wagner of both the American Legion and VFW, and Brian Hillyer of the American Legion announced that they will begin actively seeking the names of Clark County’s WWII veterans in order that they too can get signed up to participate in the Honor Flight program through the Great River Honor Flight.
According to Wayne Wagner, “A lot of our veterans think they might be too old or not in physical shape to make the trip, but the program will take everyone including those who are wheelchair bound. They have doctors who make the trip as well as handicap accessible transportation when you arrive in Washington D.C. We would like for the veterans to contract myself at 727–1239 or Brian at 727-3506, or George Hudson and Bob Walker. We will get the forms out to them and fill out the application on the spot.” Brian Hillyer added, “And it’s important that they know there are no costs associated with the trip unless they want to purchase souvenirs.”
Wagner continued, “ To be honest we do not know for sure how many WWII veterans we have in Clark County. When they got out of service most of them resumed the life they left when they went off to war and they put their military life behind them. And now when they are older they think back on how important that part of their life was and then they begin filling out the paperwork. Every courthouse is supposed to have a record of its veterans, but I would guess that we only know the identity of a third of our actual WWII veterans. But the veteran’s organizations of Clark County are working very hard at getting their names and getting them signed up for the Honor Flight. It is something which they need to see.”
Brian Hillyer stated, “Just this past week I talked to a couple veterans and explained the Honor Flight program and they have signed up for it and we are very happy about that, but we know that there are many many more. We would like to see all our WWII veterans make that trip. We are asking them to come forward and give us a call and we will get them signed up. If your husband, father, or even grandfather served in WWII we ask you to encourage them to call us, it takes very little time to fill out the application and the trip to the memorial will be an experience that they will never forget. The form is very simple and will not take long to complete.”
Currently, the veteran’s organizations are considering having a sign up booth at the Old Settler’s Day celebration in order to contact veterans. But more than anything else they are depending upon our veterans to come forward or the families of those veterans to get them signed up. The Honor Flight is a one-day trip, that began in 2005. It travels to Washington D.C. when enough
funds are raised and enough veterans are signed up for the trip. Money is raised by donations and you can also adopt a veteran and pay for their trip for a cost of $300. The funds can be sent to Great River Honor Flight, 513 Hampshire, Quincy, Illinois 62301, or Great River Honor Flight Box 80, Quincy, Illinois 62306. For more information you can also contact those mentioned in this article and they will be more than happy to assist you. WWII veterans please sign up, as this may be the last opportunity for a grateful nation and people to properly thank you for your service.
According to the WWII Memorial website, “The memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S. during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions who supported the war effort from home. Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th Century, the memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people to the common defense of the nation and to the broader causes of peace and freedom from tyranny throughout the world. It will inspire future generations of Americans, deepening their appreciation of what the World War II generation accomplished in securing freedom and democracy. Above all, the memorial stands as an important symbol of American national unity, a timeless reminder of the moral strength and awesome power that can flow when a free people are at once united and bonded together in a common and just cause.”
The memorial consists of 56 pillars arranged in a semicircle around a central plaza. They are all 17 feet tall. There are two 43-foot high arches on opposite sides. The plaza is 337 feet, 10 inches long and 240 feet, 2 inches wide; it sinks 6 feet below grade, and contains a pool that is 246 feet, 9 inches, by 147 feet, 8 inches. Each pillar is inscribed with the names of the then-48 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the Alaska Territory and Territory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each arch is inscribed with “Atlantic” and “Pacific.” on the west side of the memorial The Freedom Wall is located. It contains 4048 gold stars, one for approximately 100 American deaths incurred in the war.