As my three children watched footage of men in their 80's and 90's, some wrapped in blankets and being pushed in their wheelchairs, they told me it was hard for them to imagine that these were the same men from 70 years ago that they were now watching on film, talking of storming a beach, pulling dead or wounded to safety, flying overhead and dropping bombs, driving tanks through ruined city streets during World War II.
Yet here these men were-- lined up, one proudly saying, "I'm glad I was able to stop America from ever looking like what I saw."
The event, called “Field of Honor,” was held at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 11, 2012. A record breaking crowd for the largest film screening in history of over 30,000 came together to see the documentary, Honor Flight, in the company of living World War II veterans. All 33,000 tickets were sold for the event that featured the premiere of this documentary, about the Stars and Stripes Honor Flights that provide free trips to Washington, D.C., for World War II veterans, their goal to transport America's veterans to Washington to visit the memorial dedicated to honor their service and sacrifice.
This past Saturday my children were there and they watched the film showing these men from WWII get ready to board 747s that would take them to see the WWII Veterans Memorial in D.C., paid for through donations of a project called "Honor Flight." The documentary provides the narrative to each of their stories.
As the men boarded the planes taking them to Washington, they had the same determination to get on this flight as they did when they entered the war 70 years ago. Despite wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, you see the resolve they have to get on this flight. As one veteran is wheeled on, he says, "Okay, here we go, just like we did before." 900 World War II veterans die every day, most of them without ever seeing the War Memorial built in their honor.
These soldiers fought protecting America, and the fortunate ones who came home, stepped off the planes and went on to live their lives. Some to never talk about what they had seen. But at first sight of each other gathered together in D.C. at the memorial, the floodgates of what they lived through, open.
The documentary shows the now time-weathered faces of the men who fought years ago, and in being honored in this magnitude, the bravado of the nineteen-year-old-boys they were at that time returns, "You shoulda seen us when we were younger!" one vet says to the camera.
Honor Flight is a feature-length documentary that chronicles a community coming together to honor living World War II veterans. The film follows a devoted team of Midwest volunteers as they race against the clock to send every local WWII veteran to the Washington, DC memorials built in their honor. Honor Flight Stories is a movement to help preserve the stories of the Greatest Generation and honor their legacy. The film Honor Flight is a feature-length documentary produced by Freethink Media.
Through the end of 2011, more than 81,000 WWII veterans were flown to Washington, D.C. to see their memorial.
I am so grateful that my children were among those present this past Saturday night to honor and greet our veterans at Miller Park Field, with a standing ovation.