There is a new effort in northern Michigan to make sure all World War II Veterans have the chance to see the memorial dedicated to them in Washington D.C.
Mid-Michigan Honor Flight is part of the national organization Honor Flight Network. It's a 501-3 c program, run by volunteers, that works to make sure all WWII Veterans can visit the memorial completely free.
The inaugural mid-Michigan flight is out of Grand Rapids in June, and organizers hope to raise enough money to send the first northern Michigan flight out of Grand Traverse County in September. They are trying to raise both awareness and funds to make sure all of the WWII Veterans in northern Michigan would have the opportunity to make the trip.
Organizers say being able to spend the day at the WWII memorial is priceless for the Veterans. It's a "Tour of Honor" - the Honor Flight group works with local Veterans organizations to set up flag lines, bands, local politicians and socialites to come out and honor the Veterans. When they land in Washington D.C., buses are waiting for them, along with greetings from Congressional Representatives, Pentagon Officials, and many others, who thank them for their service. They then spend the day at the memorial, arriving back home later that day.
"They feel like it's a sense of a pinnacle in their life," said Beau Vore, the Director of Veterans Outreach for Mid-Michigan Honor Flight. "It's a chance for them to go, and see, and drum up memories, and talk to other WWII Veterans about what they've done. What this is - is it's the last opportunity for these Veterans to see how important they are to us, as WWII veterans, who have served our nation."
Every Veteran that goes has a guardian - if family can't go a trained volunteer will accompany them. Honor Flight will work with anyone that has any medical needs.
It now costs around 40 thousand dollars a flight - and organizers say they need your help. The more money raised, the more flights that can go out. "We're looking for sponsors," said Vore. "For a flight to take off it costs a lot of money, and the only way we're going to be able to do this is by the folks out there."
Can't donate funding but still want to help? Mid-Michigan Honor Flights still needs you! Volunteers are needed to help plan fundraisers, help write letters, and assisting in registering Veterans for their flight.
For more information or to make a donation - click here.