cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
I had a great adventure last evening along with a couple of thousand or more others. My sweetheart and I know one of the aging warriors who are given the opportunity to board an Honor Flight and spend a long, jam-packed day in the Washington, D.C. area.
Our friend is former army Sgt. Ed Venzke who attends Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church where we are members. Ed served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and was probably like many of the aging vets of that era. He had done what his country called upon him to do, but it was no big deal today some 68 to 70 years ago.
As the time drew near, he seemed sort of unexcited about it according to what he’d say when asked, but when I told him a couple of weeks ago that he had only two weeks ‘til the trip, he said quickly, no it is only thirteen days. His friend and close neighbor, Brad Rake, who went along to help Ed during the day, told me that he seemed to get a little more excited about each of the events that unfolded as the day wore on; but, the crowning glory was his reaction when they deplaned and Ed saw the thousands of people waiting to cheer them and shake their hands and wave their flags and say “Thank You for your service”.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to witness this, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. If you’ve not yet made the time to go to Mitchell Field on a Saturday evening to await the return of yet another Honor Flight, I’d strongly encourage you to do so. If you have grandchildren who haven’t been exposed, they’ll find a lot of company all around them, too. The crowd last evening consisted of husbands and wives of the vets, sons and daughters, and their husbands and wives, of the vets, grandchildren of the vets and even great grandchildren of the vets. These things are sometimes tough for families to talk about with the vet, but this experience throws any such difficulty out the window.
The era of our WWII vets is drawing to a close. Something in the range of 1,000 WWII veterans pass away every week. There were a lot of wheel chairs evident, but that didn’t quell the excitement felt by those men and women. Sgt. Venzke was among those hardy souls who made it tough on their escorts to keep up. He walks five to seven miles or more every day, and has the handshake grip of a much younger man; I speak from that experience every Sunday.
The faces of these 110 vets and their families that had gathered to welcome them back home were worth the time spent if it had been twelve hours rather than just three or four hours.
I cannot begin to imagine the time and work that goes into each of these Honor Flights, but it is enormous. This is all done by volunteers who believe in the worth of the flights; having seen the faces and the tear-filled eyes, I know that it is worthwhile by at least tenfold if not one hundredfold.
If you can, please contribute and/or volunteer. Simply keying in Honor Flights Wisconsin on your computer search engine will bring you to their website and give you multiple options. Better yet, click here.