Patriotic R. Roger Rowe School third graders Madison Stine and Grace Miller raised $2,100 to send a World War II veteran from San Diego to Washington D.C. on an Honor Flight.
Honor Flight San Diego, a nonprofit branch of a nationwide network, transports America’s veterans free of charge to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials that honor their service and sacrifice of themselves and their friends.
The men and women need to be celebrated while there is time, as many of those in the Greatest Generation are in their 80s and 90s.
The girls were inspired to act after seeing a video from an Oct. 1 Honor Flight. In the video, emotions were high as many of the veterans had waited a very long time to see their sacrifices honored in D.C. Many said they probably wouldn’t have been able to get there without the Honor Flight.
“They all looked so happy that they got to see the memorial. They looked proud of themselves,” said Grace.
“I did this because they saved our country and helped us out,” Madison said.
Each Honor Flight costs about $220,000 and it is roughly $2,000 per veteran. Grace earned $50 and asked for people to match it and Madison did the same with her $10. They made up flyers for their cause, featuring a photo of Madison’s 95-year-old great-grandfather on an Honor Flight trip in front of the United Sates Marine Corps War Memorial inspired by six Marines raising a U.S. flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
“People could send donations in memory of a special veteran who passed away or in honor of someone who served,” Madison said.
Grace said she wasn’t sure that she would be able to raise $2,000 and she was surprised and grateful for people’s generosity.
Anyone can go to the airport to help welcome the veterans when they arrive back home from their Honor Flight, as R. Roger Rowe Elementary School Librarian Stacey Halboth did this month to greet 75 World War II vets and two from the Korean War.
“It was pretty moving to see them come home,” Halboth said, noting lots of people and active military members gave the veterans a hero’s welcome, cheering and waving American flags —many of the veterans were in tears at the warm reception.
The money the girls raised will go toward a veteran’s flight, hotel and food for the meaningful trip. The girls will also be able to meet the veteran they specifically sponsored.
Grace and Madison’s contributions were especially important as last year’s May trip was cancelled due to a lack of funds.
“I encourage everyone to help out to make the May 2018 trip a successful one and that more veterans can go,” Grace said.
To learn more about Honor Flights, visit honorflightsandiego.org. If anyone is interested in matching the girls contributions, they can send a check made payable to Honor Flight San Diego to 9423 Keck Court, San Diego 92129.