Ducks 'n a Row: World War II Veterans - Let's Honor Them Before They Are All Gone!

24 May 2015

World War II Veterans - Let's Honor Them Before They Are All Gone!

By Sinea Pies

World War II veterans are a dying breed. At the rate of 1000 per day, soon they will all be gone, a memory of the Greatest Generation that ever lived. There is but a short window of time that remains to show the WW II veterans our deep appreciation for the sacrifice they made to keep us safe and free. That is why Honor Flight was born.

Honor Flight was created to give veterans an amazing journey to the National World War II museum, where they can meet, reflect and receive the honor that they are due! As that generation of heroes disappears, the wonderful men and women who fought in the Korean War and Vietnam War will follow in receiving the trip of a lifetime!

World War II Veterans - Honor Them Before They Are All Gone

The Veterans of World War II

World War II veterans are dying at the rate of approximately 1000 per day. That may not seem like a lot but pretty soon they will all be a distant memory -something we’ll read about in history books or see in a documentary. They will all be gone. Even at this time, most of them are in their late 80’s and 90’s. These brave men and women are the remnant of the Greatest Generation.

According to Richard V. Horrell of WW2Connections, "16,354,000 men and women served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. This number includes members of the Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines."

World War II was fought from 1939 to 1945. Most of the world’s nations were involved in that great and terrible war.Germany was at the forefront of the Axis powers, lead by its maniacal dictator Adolph Hitler, and joined by Italy and Japan. Great Britain, Russia and the United States were the key players--the "Big Three"-- in the Allies camp, determined to defeat him in his ultimate goal to conquer the world, and annihilate the Jews.

On December 7, 1941, in the early hours of the morning (7:55 a.m.), Japan declared war on the United States. Waves and waves of Japanese warplanes bombed the U.S. battleships that lay at rest in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii in a two-hour siege. The U.S. became entrenched in huge wars on two fronts: Europe and the Pacific.Those were truly perilous times.

Armed forces were needed, and needed fast. Every able-bodied man began to enlist. Those too young to actually go into combat, were utilized here on the home-front with the day to day military business (my dad being one of them.) For the most part, though, they were sent overseas. Waves and waves of our very best, prepared to give life and limb for their country, were trained and shipped out. Patriotism was high. Sacrifices were great. The war-effort dominated every part of life.

And, eventually, we won. Nations were left in ruins following years of bombing and bloodshed. Lives had been stretched to the utmost. And there were funerals, way too many to count and, yet, often no body to actually place in the ground. Families needed to mend. Some never would.

But are these people, these heroes, forgotten? Many have felt just that way.Those remaining World War II veterans seldom talk about it. Even 70 years later, it is still too painful. They endured so much. But there is a need--a deep need. That is why Honor Flight was born.

Retired Air Force Captain Earl Morse knew something had to be done. The National World War II Memorial was built in Washington DC, right on the National Mall. It opened for public viewing in April of 2004 and was officially dedicated on May 29, 2004 along at grand 4-day celebration reunion of World War II veterans.

But who of these amazing veterans all over the country would ever get to go there to see it? Some truly wanted to. Others were not sure. Over recent years, since Honor Flight was first started, a multitude have been coaxed by fellow-veterans that they just HAD to do it.They NEEDED to do it. There is healing there.

The hero’s welcome, joining of comrades, and viewing the monuments is therapeutic. Even touching them helps. It is inexplicable what it does. Backs begin to straighten up. Eyes brighten, some filling with tears. Laughter and joy spreads as they share in a victorious moment. They are the reason that we are still here today, enjoying freedom.They need to be recognized. They need to know that still we care. Morse understood that need. That is why Honor Flight was formed.

Operating on grants and generous donations, Honor Flight transports World War II veterans-- and younger, healthier traveling companions to help them-- by plane on trips to and from the memorial.Each chapter of this great organization handles the experience a little bit differently. 

The one that I know most about is Honor Flight Rochester NY. The veterans are taken by plane to Washington DC where they stay overnight in a nice hotel, all meals are provided including a glorious banquet with special guest speakers to share great stories and honor them. When they return to Rochester, they are greeted at the airport with a "hero's welcome" by family, friends and others-- including dignitaries. It is a sight to behold. You should see their faces!

"I Fought For You"

World War II Veterans have also been honored by an unlikely young team: Josh Pies and Andrew Manzano. These young men "fell-into" creating a compelling video-short that utterly surprised them -- and everyone else -- by going viral on the internet. Following it's first release it had over 5 million views in more than one posting on YouTube and over 706,000 views on SermonSpice. That was just the first time around.
Making of "I Fought For You"

Their story is much better told by themselves (video interview above) but the "Reader's Digest version" is that Andrew was in the little town of Dansville, NY with his family when they went to a vintage theater to enjoy a movie. Being a visionary, the incredible architecture totally grabbed his attention. He knew that he had to do something there. Something patriotic!

He called Josh and enthusiastically sent him some shots of the picturesque structure. He told Josh, "We can rent it to film but I don't know what to do with it. Got any ideas?" And Josh ran with it. The thoughts were coming faster than he could type. And 20 minutes later, it was there: "I Fought For You".

Casting was done in a casual way. They put the word out to family and friends--especially those in the military. 

Then the big day arrived. The clock was ticking away. They had use of the theater and equipment for only a few short hours and then their window of opportunity would be GONE. So, making good use of every moment, they shot it. Andrew edited it. Their good friend Dave Bode wrote the musical score for it. And former President Ronald Reagan narrated the newsreel (Listen to the distinctive voice. You'll know it soon as you hear it.)

Interesting note: a few of the older gentlemen appearing in the film had never been actors. They are authentic World War II Veterans who have also participated in Honor Flight and, thus, Josh, Andrew and Dave's connection with Honor Flight was born.  Editor's note: some  have passed away since the making of this film.

Both videos are included here for you to enjoy and then, please, take a moment check out Honor Flight's various websites. 

More importantly, if you know a veteran, don't wait. Tell them  "Thank you for fighting for me"!

Memorial Day and Veterans Day

Both Memorial Day and Veterans Day are far more than a day off from work or school. They are days set aside for us to show appreciation for those who have served in our military and sacrificed so much.

Memorial Day became an offical national holiday in the USA in 1971. Prior to that it was known as Decoration Day, established shorly after the Civil War to honor those who gave their lives fighting for our country.

Veterans Day honors those who have fought to keep America safe and free.
Just following World War I, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th to be a day to appreciate all that our veterans have done for us. It was called "Armistice Day" and World War II was yet to be. 

World War II Veterans - Honor Them Before They Are All Gone

"Thank you for fighting for us!"

 World War II; Veterans Day

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Note: this author is an Amazon affiliate. Anything you purchase from Amazon through Ducks 'n a Row will result in a small commission for me. In advance, "thank you" ... Sinea

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