People often talk about the â??trip of a lifetime.â?? Some of us are still waiting for that trip. But 300 veterans in our area have taken the trip of a lifetime on the Great River Honor Flight .
The Honor Flight Network started in a small way seven years ago in Ohio, when a dozen veterans made the trip to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial . Since that initial flight, more than 81,000 veterans have made the trip.
Holy Family School in Hannibal presented a $900 check to the program to help sponsor a veteran on an Honor Flight.
Dr. Richard Draper told the students how his dad had slipped into a depression. He never talked about his service in World War II, but lately he hadnâ??t been talking much at all. Dr. Draper then accompanied his dad on an Honor Flight, and he says his dad hasnâ??t stopped talking since.
â??It gives the veterans a chance to talk about their service,â?? Draper said. â??Families learn stories they had never heard before.â??
Locally, the Great River Honor Flight has made ten trips to the capitol. 89-year-old Charles Tewell made the trip from Hannibal.
â??It was wonderful. Itâ??s something Iâ??ll never forget,â?? he told me.
Tewellâ??s day started at 2 a.m. with a bus trip to catch a flight in St. Louis. His group visited the WW II Memorial first, and then they stopped by other memorial sites in Washington D.C. They wrapped up their visit at Arlington National Cemetery, to pay respects to veterans who have died. Tewell returned to Hannibal 24 hours later to a heroâ??s welcome.
It sounds like an exhausting day, and itâ??s certainly an emotional one for the veterans who make the journey, but Tewell said he never got tired. He was just so touched by the gesture, by the people who donated time and money, and by the people who came out to cheer for the veterans in the dead of night.