My dear friend, Bonnie Miller Rubin, is a great writer. Here, Bonnie covers a superb story about The Greatest Generation and their sacrifices.
The outing was courtesy of Honor Flight Chicago, a non-profit group started last year to take World War II veterans to Washington. And with 1,200 such veterans dying every day, there is urgency to the mission.
This group, ranging in age from 78 to 98, was more than willing to put up with the planes and buses to make the 700-mile trip paying tribute to their service. Some called it the best day of their lives--starting with a rousing send-off from Midway Airport© with a modern-day Andrews Sisters group crooning 1940s-era hits, and ending with a hero's welcome-home reception, with a brass band and cheering throngs.
But what was particularly poignant for the old soldiers, many of whom were in wheelchairs, some tethered to oxygen tanks, was the number of strangers--young people, school groups and new immigrants--who spontaneously approached them throughout the day, taking the opportunity to say thank you.
"I've never experienced anything like this," said Patric Rastall, 84, of Northbrook, wearing a "Wounded in Combat" cap, as a quartet of preteens lined up to shake his hand at the World War II Memorial. "All these bright, young faces ... it's overwhelming."
And be sure to get out your Kleenex box before you read this.