Page 10

Friday, September 14, 2012

www.estesparknews.com

Sunda y Service

9:45am

Sept ember Sermon Theme: Extrav ag agant Gen er erosity Unit ed Me thodist Chur ch 1509 Fish Hatchery Road (970) 586-41 53

www. .es .estesparkummc.org

School during ser vice Adult F orum 11:00 am

Another Slice of Life!

by Laurie Button

This summer I've been blessed with two truly remarkable experiences. The first was watching Old Ironsides sail through Boston Harbor on the Fourth of July. Accompanying her on the annual turn-around journey was the U.S. Coast Guard tall ship Eagle. The two military vessels exchanged ceremonial cannon fire as they poised themselves next to each other and I'm sure all of us were instantaneously taken to another place and time. The other very meaningful event took place just this past Sunday in Loveland. Let me set the stage for Honor Flight last Sunday. By 6:30 a.m. Embassy Suites at The Ranch was already bustling with activity. Hundreds of well-wishers and family members were gathering to show their gratitude to 122 veterans from World War II, Korea, as well as the war in Vietnam and one brave soldier from the conflict in Iraq. These vets would be treated to a two-day, expense-paid trip to visit our country's war memorials in Washington, D.C. The Honor Flight Network is a national, nonprofit organization created with one purpose: Its goal is to honor America's war veterans for all of their many unselfish sacrifices. The inaugural Honor Flight took place in May 2005 when six small planes took 12 World War II veterans from Springfield, Ohio to visit our nation's capital. In the past four years the local organization, Honor Flight Northern Colorado, has taken more than 1,150 veterans on this same wonderful journey. In retrospect, there is absolutely no way I can possibly convey the emotions in the ballroom where everyone gathered for a breakfast provided by the hotel and a short program. There was time to mingle, exchange stories, enjoy patriotic music and feel unbridled pride in our nation's patriots. One of the highlights was a magnificent American Bald Eagle that - in the hands of a qualified trainer - spread its wings for all to admire from a perch near the podium. For me, one of the most insightful moments was when a proud woman smiling from ear to ear passed by - her head held high and wearing what appeared to be WWII WAC or WAV attire on her head. I will always regret that we did not have a chance to speak. Why were Joel and I there? My husband and I share many interests, but supporting our nation's military past and present is one we're very passionate about. Joel has video taped several dedication ceremonies at Veterans Plaza in Fort Collins and we brought soil back from Grenada to be included in the Plaza's "Victory Garden." Sunday Joel was working with his video camera once again while I was mingling with the veterans along with fellow members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. We went from table to table greeting the vets and talking with as many of them as we could. Their smiles were infectious. Their excitement about seeing the war memorials was much more than inspiring. And I man- aged to keep my emotions under check until the very end. A piper played as the veterans and the 60 "Guardians" accompanying them boarded the buses taking the group to Denver International Airport. The smiles on the faces of the WWII vets were the ones that touched my heart most profusely. Many were in wheelchairs, many required oxygen, while still others walked proudly without assistance to the bus doors. As the entourage left Embassy Suites, it was led by more than 100 bikers from the Patriot Guard, several Larimer County Sheriffs Department squad cars, one fire truck and I believe there may have been one helicopter overhead. The motorcade drove under the extended ladder of another fire truck with a huge American flag flying high overhead as it made its way to the frontage road leading to I-25. As the crowd dispersed, a fellow DAR member told me about a conversation she'd had with one of the riders in the Patriot Guard. My friend had mentioned to him how she was having a hard time fighting back her tears. The big, burly biker simply smiled and said, "Why do you think I'm wearing sunglasses?" ? Honor Flight is funded entirely by taxdeductible contributions. If you're interested in more information about donating, if you would like to nominate a veteran, or would like to serve as a Guardian, visit www.honorflightcolorado.org. The next Honor Flight in northern Colorado will take place in May 2013. You may contact Laurie and let her know what you think at grenadagirl@me.com.

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