Back to School: 2016
‘Honor Flight’ commemorates veterans
The Honor Flight Network has a mission to fly as many World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War veterans age 65 and older to Washington D.C., for free. While there, the veterans visit various American war memorials, including those dedicated to the wars they were a part of.
It is a time for them to grieve the loss of a friend they may have lost in combat, and also a way to honor the attending service members one last time. The flight concludes with the veterans receiving letters thanking them for their service and commemorating their sacrifices.
The Honor Flight Network reported that in 2015, 20,886 veterans were flown, along with 19,093 guardians. Yet there are still 21,032 veterans on a waiting list with over 130 hubs to fly them from.
Justin Frost, a Kings High School government teacher, had the honor himself of getting to be a guardian and travel with his grandfather, John Ghizas, who immigrated to the U.S. from Greece. Two years after Ghizas came to the U.S., he became a citizen and was immediately drafted to fight in the Korean War. Frost and Ghizas recently returned from the latest Honor Flight from here in the tri-state.
A “guardian” is any family member of a veteran or a patriotic citizen who is 18 to 64 would like to pay the cost of transporting a past service member on a flight to see their memorial.
After returning from the D.C. visit, Frost said he was inspired after witnessing many emotional moments on the return flight home.
“There was an emotional buildup all day long. The flight back was a release of expression after a long day of emotion,” Frost said. “When the veterans got to read the letters from strangers, it made them feel like what they did was worthwhile and appreciated.”
Back at Kings, Frost decided to ask all his students to write a “Thank You” letter that he can mail in to the Honor Flight directors and be given to veterans on more of their return flights.
Grace Thomas, a KHS junior and student of Frost, feels like the letter gives her a chance to send her true praise for the many brave and honorable veterans who she feels are often underappreciated and sadly forgotten.
“I feel like after veterans come home, people forget that they got up everyday to fight for our freedom. I think the letters are showing them that even if it’s not Veteran’s Day, we still remember them and thank them for what they did for our country.” Thomas shared.
Frost says he hopes to continue having his students write to the veterans in years to come.
“I hope to do this on a regular basis.” says Frost. “There are always more honor flights and I wanted to expand the opportunity so students themselves could chaperone for a veteran if they had the opportunity to do so.”
Kings is also honoring current service members as well. Frost’s letter idea comes amidst the high school’s Military Week activities. Students participate by dressing to represent a different branch of the military everyday this week, as well as bringing in items to send to the troops overseas in care packages.
The letters are another creative and special way the community can give back to veterans who have sacrificed so much for freedom and liberty.
By Madison Lunsford