I call it a wave of patriotism flowing across this great nation and I witnessed it first-hand last week.
I joined up with a group of men and women with the Montezuma American Legion Post 169 and its Auxiliary and traveled to the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, April 25 with camera in hand and a bit of excitement in my heart. I was there to welcome home three veterans from Montezuma, Ron Curry, his son-in-law, Jim Failor and Dan Cook, who had participated in the #46 Eastern Iowa Honor Flight that day.
Ron’s two daughters, Sue Failor and Kim Huth, were chaperons for Ron and Jim. Ron’s grandson was also present to greet him in Cedar Rapids. Dan’s son was his guardian on the flight. His wife, Nancy, and a grandson were there to meet them.
I also met a couple from Grinnell that evening as I was leaving the airport. I wasn’t sure if they had participated in the flight or were there to support the veterans. They recognized me and it was nice visiting.
There were hundreds of people of all ages who came to show their support for our nation’s veterans. Many carried and waved American Flags while others held signs and banners welcoming back their veteran grandfather, father, mother, son, daughter, or family member.
The Cedar Valley Big Band from Cedar Falls was on hand providing music while some couples enjoyed dancing. One couple I met was from Welton, Iowa and they were dressed in 50s outfits and they knew how to swing to the tunes.
I watched as photographers jockeyed for the best place to get that heartfelt moment of appreciation and thanks while honor flight staff and law officials milled about to make sure everyone had a safe experience.
I captured a few moments with my camera of local legion members shaking hands and thanking the veterans, most they didn’t know, who had just returned from the long day spent in Washington, D.C. seeing the sights of our nation’s capital.
“Thank you for your service” could be heard ringing out across the airport lobby as the entourage of veterans made their way in wheelchairs and by foot through the long line of supporters and family members who came to show their support.
KCRG in Cedar Rapids reported that there were nearly 100 veterans on Tuesday’s flight. Their trip to Washington, D.C. included visiting WWII, FDR, MLK, Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam, Arlington National Cemetery, USMC and USAF memorials. The veterans were also taken on a city tour where they were able to see the Smithsonian, Capitol, White House and various other historical buildings. The Eastern Iowa Honor Flight, which is a non-profit 501(C)3 charitable organization, was founded in 2009.
Some of the men in our group had participated themselves in the #45 Eastern Iowa Honor Flight in November 2022 and others in previous flights. They knew what it was like to return home and be welcomed by so many.
It was a heartfelt evening of patriotism and something that I will never forget. I’m a firm believer that this country needs more of that these days. I miss the days when there wasn’t so much division in this country, especially in our nation’s capital. There is always someone pointing a finger of blame on someone else.
This reminds of June 11, 2022 and the dedication of the Harold “Pie” Keller monument at the Avenue of Flags in Brooklyn. That event was a showcase of patriotism like I had never seen. Tuesday’s event was right up there with it.
I’m thankful for the privilege to participate in events such as the “Pie” Keller Memorial dedication and the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight and for the opportunity to share the stories of the men and women who have and who serve this great country.
Thank you for your service and sacrifice.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.