WASHINGTON D.C. — 82 veterans from around the Ozarks are now back from their Honor Flight to our nation’s capitol. On the trip were 3 World War II vets, 51 from Vietnam, and 28 from Korea. Many of them were experiencing their respected memorials for the very 1st time.
21 paces, 21 seconds of silence.
It’s a pattern that repeats 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
More than 400,000 American soldiers currently rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier sits on a hill, overlooking more than 4,000 graves with headstones labeled “Unknown”.
What’s in a name? The power of recognition. The symbolism of sacrifice.
82 veterans concluded their Honor Flight with their names called, 1 by 1.
Their names, written boldly on envelopes, sent with love from back home. Home. The place many of them considered privileged to be.
In Their own Words
“You’re a 19 or 20-year-old kid, halfway around the world, and you’ve never been out of the States. Yeah, that’s scary. I wouldn’t want kids nowadays to go through something like that,” said John Hardesty, a Vietnam Veteran from 1969 to 1970.
“It just brings back the reality of the real thing. What the hell we went through and why,” said Jim Vanderhoof, a WWII veteran from 1939 to 1945.
“I didn’t realize there were that many killed in Korea. 54,000,” said Joe Hall, a Korean Vet from the 40th Infantry Division.
“It is a lot of names. There were times when I didn’t think I was going to make it. Everyone thinks that nobody is going to make it through. They don’t know when that time will come when they are going to get it,” said Hardesty. “Whether they volunteered or whether they were just sent over, they still went without reluctance. They went.
“Its a trip of a lifetime,” said Carl Holman, Air Force vet in Korea. “This is just something really special that they do for us veterans. It’s just a wonderful feeling to be back here.”
“We didn’t have any other choice. We had to protect our country and we had top show the world just how strong we were,” said Vanderhoof.
Freedom Isn’t Free
For unmarked veteran’s tombs at Arlington National Cemetery and their 400,000+ brothers and sisters, freedom isn’t free.
For veterans in the Ozarks, their sacrifice didn’t come free.
For us, it often does. And so is the opportunity to recognize them, honor them, and thank them.
Again, ‘What is the Power of a Name’?
Look no further than a veteran sitting at an airport, while opening an envelope of letters written from back home.
21 steps and 21 seconds of silence is a pattern that will never stop at Arlington. In the same way, neither should our willingness to serve our veterans.
They took the 1st steps in defending our freedom.