You know how Isos bloggers typically write about things like Kanban boards, Agile transformations, Slack migrations, and Jira workflows? I hate to break it to you, but I won’t be writing about any of those types of things. But I hope you’ll stick with me as I have something special to share with you. It’s called Honor Flight.
I discovered Honor Flight when I read an article in the newspaper that invited people to sign up to be Guardians that assist Veterans on an Honor Flight Mission. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but since I have Veterans in my family, I wanted to find out more. I checked with my friend Google and learned that Honor Flight is a non-profit that transports Veterans, free of charge, to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated in their honor. Coincidentally, my local hub, Honor Flight of West Central Florida, had a flight scheduled on my grandmother’s 90th birthday. Her husband (my grandfather), like many WWII Vets, passed away before the WWII Memorial opened in 2004. Due to the timing, I felt it was a nudge from the universe, so I jumped on the opportunity to be a Guardian. Each flight is comprised of approximately 75 Veterans, each with a Guardian to help them. My grandpa may have missed his chance to see his memorial, but I wanted to volunteer so a Vet got the opportunity to see theirs before it was too late.
When I arrived at the airport on flight day at 4 a.m. I was unaware (who are we kidding, I was barely conscious at that hour) that I was about to do one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I was paired up with a 92-year-old WWII Veteran. He was very tall, wore a big smile and quickly told me he danced polkas three nights a week and was in great shape for a day of walking around D.C. Other than being a bit disturbed that someone in their 90’s got more exercise in a week than I did at 42, I was excited for our day to begin. As we boarded the plane, the camaraderie was amazing to witness. The Vets were thrilled to be together and began to share their war memories. It was like being part of a live history lesson!
Once we arrived in D.C., we spent time at the Air Force, Korean, Vietnam and WWII memorials. Most of the Vets had never seen them, so it was incredibly moving to be there as they took it all in. Lots of picture were taken, hugs given and some tears were shed. Watching my Veteran reflect at his memorial and squeeze my hand a bit tighter when he got choked up made me feel very privileged to be a small supportive part of his trip. My heart ached that my grandpa never got to have this experience as every Vet should know how thankful we are for their service and the sacrifices they made for our country. After returning home to the most incredible Welcome Home celebration that I have ever witnessed, I was determined to stay involved with Honor Flight. Seven years later, I still find it so gratifying to be part of this wonderful organization. I am very fortunate that everyone at Isos supports the time I spend with Honor Flight and my co-workers even join us in D.C.!
If you ever get the opportunity to support your local Honor Flight hub, please do so! Here’s a link to find the one closest to you- https://www.honorflight.org/. I promise it will be a day you’ll never forget.