The Enduring Grace of Patriotism 4

Honor Flight Kern County Takes Veterans to Washington D.C. Memorials

The wounds of war are not always obvious. So many warriors have fought valiantly in foreign wars and returned home to restart their interrupted lives. Veterans of both World Wars and the Korean War received warm welcomes, but Vietnam War veterans were not honored in the same way. The anti-war sentiment of the times colored the perception of the public, and those soldiers were left to deal with their own difficult homecomings. The common thread was silence. Many never discussed their experiences, the horrors and raw emotions of their experiences. Many never felt their sacrifices were recognized or appreciated.

Many veterans returned with severe physical wounds that have challenged their health, employment and re-entry into civilian life. However long or short their tenure in the armed forces, their experiences have had a lifelong effect both physically and emotionally.

Earl Morse founded Honor Flight in Ohio in 2005. Honor Flight is a nonprofit network of 136 hubs around the nation dedicated to honoring our country’s veterans and expressing the nation’s heartfelt gratitude for their service and sacrifices. Groups of veterans are flown to Washington, D.C. to tour the war memorials built in their honor. Lilli Marsh, president of Kern County Honor Flight, brought the program here and organized the first flight in 2012. She and a group of dedicated volunteers have arranged for 1,300 veterans of World War I, Korea and Vietnam to travel to Washington and visit the memorials free of charge. Lifelong silent suffering is replaced by the honor and gratitude bestowed upon them by Honor Flight. Their experience is transformative. “Honor Flight saved my life!” said one veteran. For more information, call 661.527.3838 or visit HonorFlightKernCounty.org.

“ It’s been 70 years and I can finally let it go!” WW II Vet