July 25, 2008
Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
There is a remarkable project taking place in Nebraska and throughout our country. Not long ago, I had the opportunity to meet those taking part in one of the Honor Flights organized to provide Nebraska veterans the opportunity to visit the national World War II Memorial built to honor their sacrifices and contributions.
Sixteen million Americans served in World War II. Today, an estimated 5 million veterans of that historic war are still with us. Approximately 14,000 of those are veterans living in Nebraska.
The Honor Flight Network was started as a way to have a positive impact on the lives of World War II veterans by organizing visits to Washington, D.C., allowing them to visit the World War II Memorial. During the past four years, honor flights have safely transported more than 5,000 veterans to our nation’s capitol.
Nebraska's first honor flight was held in May and transported 102 veterans to tour the World War II Memorial and other landmarks in our nation’s capitol.
The memorial was completed and dedicated in 2004. The 60th anniversary of the end of World War II was in 2006, and today the youngest veterans from that era are 80 years old.
Visiting with the 117 veterans and more than 30 guardians who were part of the second flight departing from Lincoln earlier this month was truly a memorable night for me. I know that their visit to Washington the following day was the trip of a lifetime for each and every one of them.
Heartland Honor Flights are open to World War II veterans in Nebraska and Western Iowa. Service members from all branches of the United States armed forces are eligible to participate, including female volunteers, such as those who were part of the Navy WAVE organization. Flight assignments are made on a first come, first served basis with Nebraska’s next flight scheduled for September 16.
Two planes will depart from Omaha taking 250 veterans to the memorial, tour of the U.S. Capitol grounds and the National Mall, and visits to the Korean, Iwo Jima and Vietnam Memorials. The day includes a visit to Arlington National Cemetery to observe the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, before returning to Nebraska in the evening.
There is no cost to veterans to be part of an honor flight visit. The volunteers who accompany veterans on flight and day-long tour pay their own way. The program is funded entirely by donations. With expenses for each flight set at approximately $75,000 and with a waiting list of nearly 900 veterans, there is a need for additional support.
Contributions to the Heartland Honor Flight program can be sent to the attention of:
Heartland Honor Flight - VFW
P.O. Box 4552, Lincoln, NE, 68504.
Those interested in being part of a future trip can request an application by calling the Nebraska Veterans of Foreign Wars office in Lincoln at (402) 464-0674 or by visiting the Honor Flight Network Web site at www.honorflight.org.
The veterans’ organizations within the state who have partnered with the Honor Flight Network, the individuals and businesses donating to the program, and the volunteers are making these flights possible. I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone connected with this outstanding project and the veterans who served our country.
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