Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In Honor

I wrote yesterday about Saturday's Purdue game, our stop at Noah's house, and Dara's soccer game, but I saved the most meaningful part of the day for a post of its own. At 8:30 on Saturday evening, we gathered with what I would call a 'throng' of people at the Indianapolis International Airport to welcome home 70 WWII veterans from their day trip to Washington, D.C. on the Indy Honor Flight. The trip, at no cost to the veterans, provides them an opportunity to visit the National WWII Memorial for a tour of honor.
Indy Honor Flight is part of the National Honor Flight Network. Their mission: To transport America's veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their sacrifices.

We were there to welcome and honor Jim's father, John Stewart, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1942-1946. At 94 years of age, he was able to make the trip to D.C., accompanied by Jim's brother Paul. The group left early Saturday morning, and returned to Indianapolis that same evening.

Of course, as is usually the case with our family, we had a large group there to surprise him and welcome the group home. What an honor for us to greet this special group of veterans and thank them for their service to our country.

Arden had a little snack while we waited for their arrival.
The boys were ready, Harper, Riley, and Carter.
Emmy smiles for the camera.
Carter thought he would take a picture of me...

while I was taking a picture of him.
Finally, the veterans began arriving through the security doors.
Leading the way was a group of bagpipers playing the military service hymns. Very cool.
Emmy and Gramps.

David and Shylah.
Carter showing me his missing teeth!
And here comes Grandpa!
Most of the veterans had lipstick kiss prints on their cheeks thanks to some re-enactors who were there to welcome them home with a 1945-style smooch.
Tom and Kirsten greeting Grandpa.
Jim's turn.

David and Shylah.

And a few of the great grandchildren, who stood patiently shaking hands with most of the veterans who came through before Grandpa. The average age of WWII veterans is 88 years old. The National Honor Flight Network exists to thank and honor these men and women through this very meaningful trip and tribute.
Grandpa got a thank you from one of the airport security officers, along with Elizabeth and Emmy.
And, of course, he was anxious to show the kids his special name tag.
After a long, meaningful, and emotional day, John posed with the family welcoming committee before heading home. We thank God for John, for his service to our country, and for all the veterans who sacrificed for our freedom.
God Bless America!

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