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Life Arts

Dec. 7 Release of Movie "Honor Flight:" One Last Mission for WW2 Vets

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Meryl Ann Butler     Permalink
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World War 2 Memorial, National Mall in Wash., DC, built in 2004. by Photo Credit Visual Image Photography

He wanted to provide an expense-free visit to Washington DC's World War II Memorial for them, and in 2005, with several other volunteer pilots, he made his first trip.  After co-founding Honor Flight with Jeff Miller, Morse's dream has grown to 117 hubs in 40 states (

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Wisconsin's Joe Dean was inspired by a brief national news segment on Morse's Honor Flight, and gathered a group together to start Stars and Stripes Honor Flight in his own region.

The film follows Dean, Demler, Kurz, and the Wisconsin hub's story, as well as the poignant stories of 89-year-old Julian Plaster who buried many of his friends while on "burial disposal unit" in the Pacific; and Orville Lemke, who was fighting a battle with cancer when the thrilling call came that invited him to go on the next Honor Flight. Orville bubbled over with enthusiasm for the six weeks after he returned from the trip before passing away.

Julian Plaster is deep in thought at the memorial by Photo Credit: Visual Image Photography

Orville Lemke, surprised on the flight home with letters of gratitude. by Photo Credit: Freethink Media

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One WW2 veteran dies every 90 seconds, that's over 900 every day, and Honor Flight is scrambling to provide the remaining vets with journeys of appreciation while they still can. Many of these vets haven't flown in a plane since WW2.

A military official presides over a traditional military funeral for a World War by Photo Credit: Freethink Media

In addition to visiting the WW2 Memorial on the Mall, the veterans on these trips often also get to see the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the changing of the guard at the the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Arlington Cemetery.

Honor Flight Historic Triangle Virginia at the Iwo Jima Memorial, 04.17.10 by Photo credit Meryl Ann Butler for

Endless graves at Arlington Cemetary by Photo credit Meryl Ann Butler for

But for many, the highlight of the day is mail call on the return flight, when every veteran receives a package of cards and letters from family, loved ones and even strangers, solicited in secret before the trip. By the time the cards and letters of love and appreciation are all read, it's hard to find a dry eye.

Mail call by Photo credit Meryl Ann Butler for

The young filmmakers, Dan Hayes (Director) and Clay Broga (Producer) say, "Making Honor Flight has changed our lives. We're in our late-20s and, like most everyone in our generation, take a lot of things for granted. After hearing these WWII veterans' stories, that was put in perspective for us. The people we've met through the Honor Flight program and the experiences they let us observe, forced us to grapple with the issues of gratitude, family and freedom in our own lives. Through this film, we aim to provide others with the same transformational  experience."

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It is not necessary to be pro-war in order to be pro-veteran. War experiences, like other aspects of life, are personal, social, contextual and complex, and are often filled with unexpected silver linings. And from Revolutionary times to the present, one of the benefits of wartime has been the opportunity for people with significantly fewer rights, such as women and people of color, to make huge strides forward in their circumstances--strides that had been impossible to make during peacetime.

The Honor Flight documentary makes history come alive by offering the richness of heart and soul far beyond the facts, as it provides an extraordinary opportunity for our culture to honor our elders. I think it should be required viewing for every high school history student.

The world premier of the documentary Honor Flight was staged in August at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, on one of the largest HD jumbotrons in sports. 28,442 people packed the stadium, where a Guinness World Records judge was on hand to officially announce that the film had set a new world record for largest attendance at a film screening. (The previous record was 27,022, set in Brazil in 2010 in the stadium of the pro soccer team featured in that film. click here)

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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