Imagine being a WWII veteran stepping out of your car and being greeted by over 300 cheering individuals forming a tunnel and holding signs. The sidewalks are lined with American flags and large feather flags representing all the military branches. As you are being walked into Tri-Rivers, you are greeted by multiple veterans’ groups, president reenactors, family members, and friends. Welcome Home signs line the halls and you receive a hand-written card or letter from a school age child thanking you for your service.
As you head into the auditorium, you are again greeted by individuals and seated at a special table with your name on it. The Pledge of Allegiance is recited and the Star-Spangled Banner is sung by a star vocalist. A guest speaker and former veteran speaks before a virtual tour of the Washington D.C. war monuments is shown. After more festivities, you are dismissed into the halls, lined with family and friends, while your name, branch of service, and where you served are read aloud. Cheering and clapping surround you as you are given an American flag, a hand-made flag quilt, two DC photo books, and an Honor Flight wooden flag. The afternoon was truly magnificent and, as you leave, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride and gratitude for those honoring your service.
For 31 veterans it wasn’t hard to imagine, since this was the atmosphere on August 18, 2018 for the very first Honor Flight at Home.
Honor Flight is a national program that takes senior veterans to Washington D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends. However, Margie Saull recognized a demographic in Marion and the surrounding area that was unable to attend an actual Honor Flight tour. Fueled by her passion to have senior veterans, such as her father, experience the overwhelming love and support shown at Honor Flight D.C., she decided to create a similar program close to home. An event that started out as a brainchild for Margie Saull quickly became a reality after getting approval from the Honor Flight Columbus branch to be an official host site, nine months prior to the event.
The Honor Flight at Home program was designed to honor and recognize WWII and Korean War veterans who have not been on the Honor Flight D.C. trip and cannot travel to Washington. It is funded strictly by donations and sponsorships since the program is free to the veterans. The goal is to provide the Honor Flight at Home participants the same souvenirs and items as those who travel to Washington D.C. A simple donation of $50 funds one of the honored veterans’ gifts. However, it takes more than just monetary donations, it takes a lot of time and effort on the part of volunteers creating some of the hand-made items and signs. The event is truly an act of love by the Marion community. If you would like to help support this wonderful local event or you have any questions, please contact Margie Saull at 740-360-8902.
The 2019 event is scheduled to be held August 17 at Tri-Rivers. The deadline to register a veteran for the event is July 15, 2019. If you know a war veteran that qualifies don’t hesitate to contact Margie, Honor Flight at Home would love to give them the recognition and support they deserve. If you would like to see more photos of the event or read about Honor Flight Columbus go to http://www.honorflightcolumbus.org/.
#WeAreVeterans #WeAreProud #WeAreMarionMade