"An Honor Flight is conducted by non-profit organizations dedicated to transporting as many United States military veterans as possible to see the Washington DC memorials of the respective war(s) in which they fought, at no cost to the veterans. Currently these organizations are focused on bringing veterans of World War II to the National World War II Memorial, and any veteran with a terminal illness to see the memorial of their respective war. The program will transition to focusing on veterans of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and subsequent wars as the veterans of those wars get older. The veterans on the honor flights are escorted by volunteer guardians, who help them on the flight and around Washington.
" .... The Honor Flight Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which works as an umbrella organization with local chapters and various subgroups
" .... The first honor flight took place in May 2005 .... Honor Flight Network says that as of November 2010 it has transported 63,292 veterans of WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War to Washington." (source ~ Wikipedia)
Thousands of U.S. World War II veterans die each year. The numbers attending various unit reunions are shrinking at a tragic pace. My father served in France and Germany, working on Army railroads. Over the years, I've often dreamed of taking him to Europe to visit the places he'd seen, in particular the American honor cemeteries near the Normandy beaches, site of the D-Day landings. But as he has aged, that vision has faded.
It might be a stretch for them physically, but I'd still like to take both my dad and my mom (who is a founding member of my home town's VFW Auxiliary) to Washington to see the WWII Memorial. I know that they would both be deeply moved, as I am each time I visit the Vietnam Memorial. As their health fails, even that dream becomes more distant. How very sad.
If you would like to learn more, check out the website for the film "Honor Flight", a documentary about four World War II veterans whose Midwestern community sponsored their trip to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, seventy years after their struggle.