By Scott McGrath, November 11th 2011
Today flying back from Islip NY I had the honor to be part of a unique experience known as a “Honor Flight” where groups of Vietnam and WW II veterans are flown at no cost to visit the Vietnam Wall and the WW II memorial.
When I arrived the airport had a honor guard of Motorcyclists from the entrance to the security checkpoint and they all had flags and hats with where they served during the Vietnam War. Hats with Da Nang, Khe Sanh and of course the infamous Hanoi Hilton.
The former servicemen then boarded our plane Southwest 763 and they were saluted by the crew and passengers. The flight was just a normal flight the flight attendants passed out beverages and snacks and I contributed my supply of drink coupons to the flight attendants in the event one of the Honor Flyers wanted an adult beverage.
We landed and prior to landing the Honor Flight members were asked to deplane last and as a group, I disembarked the plane and went up the Jetway and when I arrived in the gate area I saw the most amazing sight I have EVER seen.
On each side of the gate and snaking through the B terminal at BWI there were HUNDREDS of active duty servicemen and women with a sprinking of Police Fire and TSA people for as far as the eye could see as a honor guard for the members of our honor flight.
When the first members of the Honor flight emerged this line shook their hands and applauded for them, This was the most moving experience I have ever had where the members of our active duty servicemen and women saluted the sacrifices of a past generation of servicemen and women who in their time were not accorded the respect and honor our Servicemen and women are given now.
This experience made Veterans Day live for me as it has never lived for me before. I’ve attended many memorial day parades but this experience brought tears to my eyes as I saw all those people gathered for the sole purpose of honoring those who gave their lives to protect our Nation. And it reminded me that freedom is by no means FREE.
To absent friends from all Wars. (Check back later for video when I have a fast connection)