I had the pleasure of being on The Honor Flight from Dayton to Washington, D.C. recently (5 Sep 2015), and want to express my thanks to all involved. This letter is therefore written in the first person singular.
To Home Instead Senior Care: Thank you for providing the funds ($30,000.00) that made our flight possible, and half of that required for October’s flight. Your generosity allowed and will allow veterans to view memorials built in our nation’s capital to honor their valor, and that of fallen and missing comrades.
To Honor Flight Dayton, Inc. and your Guardians: You and your volunteers (who pay their own way) provided several veterans a chance to view memorials built in their honor that failing health or battle injuries had made impossible. The care and assistance provided by Guardians was outstanding and professional. The rest of us might never have seen the memorials because of missed opportunities or financial constraints. Thanks for all you have done and continue to do.
To the 29 people who wrote letters or cards: Honor Flight Dayton gave each veteran a large manila envelope containing letters and cards written by area schoolchildren, teenagers, young adults and active duty service men and women. They expressed appreciation, love and admiration for the veteran’s military service. Each brought a smile, an “ah” or tears to our eyes because the messages were from the writer’s heart. I selected those mentioned below for special attention.
To Waterford management and staff: Your kind words touched the hearts of veterans living at the Waterford Independent Living Community. To Laura: You were the one who found out about Honor Flight, encourage us to go and accompanied us as a Guardian, pushing Russell in a wheel chair. Thanks.
To Washington, D.C. Honor Flight Guardians Megan and Tatiana: Megan, you pushed my wheelchair at every stop in our tour. I would not have seen half of it without your help. Please accept my deepest appreciation and thanks. Tatiana, your touching letter sounded like it came from an immigrant who loves and appreciates being an American. I just wish I could have met you in Washington. You exemplify why we served.
To four grade school/high school students (and your teachers): You will receive letters sent to your schools in which I will offer to show the DVD, “Overview of America” and present a short talk on how The Founding Fathers meant for the Federal Government to function. My offer will be for 17 September, which is Constitution Day. Federal law requires all schools receiving Federal money to teach about the Constitution on that day.
To those serving in our military: You took an oath (or affirmed), “…to protect and defend the Constitution….” That oath did not contain an expiration date. Please treat it that way.
To my son, David, his wife, Shelly, and to my great grandchildren: What a surprise to find your letters and drawings in that big envelope. Your letters will be treasured, and the drawings will go on my refrigerator, as always. Preserving your freedoms and our way of life, especially for the little ones, is why so many of my comrades made the ultimate sacrifice. No external force on earth can take freedom from us. If lost, it will have to be given away or stolen by insiders.
To those who showed up in person: The crowd that greeted us in Washington was impressive, but the crowd in Dayton at around 11:00 pm was awesome. Two to four hundred had to process through security before they closed and remain at the gate for hours until we arrived. They them joined others in the main terminal.
A crowd of 1500 to 2000 then welcomed us home. Military bands, honor guards, ROTC units standing at attention and saluting us, boy scouts, girl scouts, Knights of Columbus and groups of all kinds and descriptions. Retired service dogs and their care givers. Families, including young children. I so wanted to grab a young toddler and tell her, “Honey, protecting your freedoms is what this is all about.” Recent national events made me question if America was worth saving. Those doubts vanished that evening.
To God: Heavenly father, you are my silent guiding light. Thanks for letting me be born in the USA, and helping me understand our Constitution and republican form of government. They were devised to guide a Christian nation, and are inadequate for any other. Please help us return to your teachings so we may be worthy of your blessings. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Al Kuchinka is a local resident and guest columnist.