Honor Flight: An Experience of Remembrance
Melissa Reade, the CTLM’s own Assistant Director of Communications and Operations, recently took part in the Honor Flight, an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. for World War II veterans. Melissa volunteered to ride along on this one-day-trip to venerate the memory of her own grandfather, Herb Sondergard, a WWII veteran whose portrait sits in a place of honor in her office.
Although the group had only a short amount of time for D.C. sightseeing, they still visited several sites, including the WWII Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, as well as Arlington National Cemetery, where they observed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “The trip was an awesome and honoring experience for these veterans who served our country,” Melissa said of the flight.
Organized by the Sullivan-Hartogh-Davis Post 730 out of Waterloo, the Honor Flight planned special surprises along the way for the vets, including letters from Cedar Valley school children, engraved personalized dog tags, and live music by a 1940’s-style Big Band in the Waterloo airport to welcome them home. Crowds of people greeted the vets at both ends of the flight with hugs, cheers, flags, and support. “They were like rock stars!” Melissa said.
While Melissa emphasized that the experience renewed her already strong appreciation for this country’s past and current service men and women, what she spoke most warmly about was the time she spent with three particular vets, Mel, Bob, and Wilbur. “I came away with a greater knowledge of how their experiences shaped their lives,” she said, smiling about the one-on-one conversations she now cherishes. “It’s so important that these people are being honored and remembered.”