Today, Isaac turns 16 and Charlie turns 12. Can you believe it?? Good grief. Isaac is already taller than me and Charlie’s not far behind — but don’t tell them that I admitted that. We’ll be having a low-key kind of day today but, tomorrow, Grandma Kaye will arrive with birthday “cakes” for them both. We’ll do up some festivities then.
Honor Flight. Have you heard of this? How about the Patriot Guard? Well, Hollie & Vern, friends of mine, are both very involved and invited the boys to don their Boy Scout uniforms and join them for the next Great River Honor Flight on 9/11. We met at the “staging area” in New London, Missouri at 8:30 pm and, wow, what a sight! The Patriot Guard was there — 200 motorcycles all gathered, a sea of leather and chrome! I wish I’d gotten some good photos but I forgot my camera. Oh, the shame! I’ll definitely remember to grab it next time.
Charlie and Isaac got to meet the Perry Fire Department and climb on their truck. Those guys were very cool! They took the boys on the truck and hooked them up to Inspector Gadget-like seat/oxygen mask contraptions. (Absolutely horrible attempt at a nighttime iPhone photo below.)
Then the fellas got introduced to the New London Fire Department. (Fortunately for me, Hollie is much smarter than I am and actually remembered her camera. Thanks for taking some pics for me, Hollie!)
And then they got roped into working. The boys were supposed to help out with selling sandwiches, drinks, etc with the NLFD but they’re so stinking shy that they ended up just standing there oh-so-politely. Maybe they were taking a cue from me and “supervising”. Yeah, that’s it. They looked good, though!
‘Round about 9:30 p.m., Vern climbed up on a table and gave an overview of the game plan. Several area veterans were flown to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorials, at no expense to the vets, and were on their way back. A bus picks them up from the airport in St. Louis and drives them through New London, Hannibal, and finally Quincy where they are greeted home by family & friends. And 200 crazy wonderful bikers. And two Boy Scouts.
Anyway, about 10:00 p.m., Vern gives the “Saddle up!” and the sea of leather & chrome begin feeding into a river of leather & chrome making it’s way to the highway. As the bus passes, Vern vrooms out in front of it to slow its speed so that all of the bikes & a few of us in cars can pass the bus and lead the procession. Cop cars, front & rear, clear intersections and make a safe passage for us to blow through every stoplight on the way. I felt like such a criminal! 60 mph was to the be speed at which we’d travel, Vern said. I think someone lied to Vern because I was going 70 and having trouble keeping up at times. Needless to say, the trip to Quincy didn’t take terribly long.
We pulled into the college where the vets’ families awaited, passed through the parking lot and crowd, and found a parking spot. We found Hollie who ushered the boys to the front of the crowd to wait near the red carpet and help greet the vets. As each vet disembarked the bus, they were introduced: name, branch of service, and war. Lots of Army, Navy, and Air Force but no Marines that I heard. All WWII and Korea. A beautiful round of applause and occasional hoot & holler for each vet and they were released to their families. And gobs of huge smiles!
Go to this link to read a short article and see a news video of this Honor Flight. (If you look closely, you can see the boys as the camera pans the crowd.) Good stuff.
It was amazing to witness and an honor to be even a tiny part of it. Both boys understood the significance of the event and want to return to do more. I think that’s pretty darned cool.
Thank you so much, Vern & Hollie and all of the Patriot Guard, for having us!!!