On the weekend of October 6 and 7, 2018, 50 veterans from the Twin Tiers of New York and Pennsylvania were treated to a heroes trip to Washington, D.C. The Twin Tiers Honor Flight took care of their transportation, lodging, and meals. These veterans were given a police escort through the streets of Binghamton to the Pennsylvania state line. When they stopped for lunch in York, Pennsylvania, they were greeted by American Legion Riders and community members who lined both sides of the street holding flags as the coach buses traveled through. These people wanted our veterans to know that even though they're not from Central Pennsylvania, they're equally loved and respected.

We live in a day and age where there is so much negativity, where it seems that so many have a political agenda and personal vendetta. My heart was completely grabbed by the people I saw this weekend who had none of those things. Instead, they had genuine gratitude and humble hearts. As he was sweeping over the rows and rows of graves in Arlington, one veteran commented, with a tear falling down his cheek, that he isn't sure that this generation fully comprehends the sacrifices made so that they could enjoy the things and the freedoms that they have. He cried as he talked about his fallen comrades, men he grew up playing in the neighborhood streets with who were drafted, fought, and lost their lives.

Mr. Bob Jordan is one of the veterans who accompanied us on our Honor Flight trip and it was absolutely moving when we visited one of his memorials, the World War II memorial. and he ran into a group of kids who were visiting Washington, D.C. for their 8th grade trip. The kids gathered around Mr. Jordan and he held hands with them and explained to them that we are all people and we are all responsible to care for one another. Race, religion, gender, political affiliation, it doesn't matter. What matters is respecting fellow humans and protecting one another.

All of our veterans are treasures, but Mr. Jordan was really something special. He's has been married to his love for 72 years. He's got five kids, 13 grand kids, 30 great grand kids, and one great-great grand kid. He's a retired 1st Lieutenant with the Marines and served for 24 years. He served in World War II and the Korean War. Oh, and he's 100 years-old.

During our time in Washington, D.C. our veterans were able to visit the Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Navy Museum, Air Force Memorial, and witness the changing of the guard and a wreath ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The weekend was long and it was hot, but it was completely gratifying and the icing on the cake was the warm welcome that our veterans received upon return to the American Legion on Robinson Street in Binghamton. One veteran told me that the homecoming he received that night was better than the one he received when he returned home from war.

According to the National World War II Memorial, of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, an estimated 620,000 were still alive in 2016, however, an estimated 372 veterans are dying each day. I'm awful at math, but my calculator tells me that there are, on average, 134,664 veterans who will have died by the time this year is over. Let that sink in. Within the next four years, more than a million veterans will no longer be with us and many of those veterans will never have the chance to visit their memorials in Washington DC. to grieve, to find closure, to pay their respects to fallen comrades, and to receive the thanks and the respect that they themselves deserve. However, you and I can do our part in our little corner of the world by sending our local veterans to their memorials through the Twin Tiers Honor Flight. Every dollar counts when it comes to making these trips possible, so if you've got a buck or two to spare, please consider making a donation.

[via National World War II Memorial/Twin Tiers Honor Flight]