The parades, flags, honor guards and all of the picnics will soon be by us once again in celebration of Memorial Day. I had the opportunity to experience my Memorial Day a month earlier than most people this year, when I was honored to be a guardian for veteran Frank Rodman on Mission IV of the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight.
The flight took place on May 1 and flew out of the Delta County Airport. There were 74 World War II veterans from all around the Upper Peninsula that went to Washington D.C. that day, with a total flight count of 165 that included a guardian for each veteran and support staff.
To date there have been 311 World War II Upper Peninsula veterans that have been able to experience the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam Memorials along with the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
I have been to Washington D.C. before, but I have never experienced it like I did that day on the Honor Flight. We landed at Reagan National Airport and while we walked with some veterans and pushed 60 others in wheelchairs through the airport, cheers from the general public were heard from one end to the other.
These people only knew that we were a World War II Honor Flight and their cheering brought a feeling of honor, patriotism and thankfulness for being able to live in this great country. Being able to bring these veteran to our nation's capital and to honor them and all of the others before them was a special privilege.
The Upper Peninsula was very well represented that day in Washington and I know that the people of our area are very proud of our veterans, our heritage and our country. The next time someone says, "Memorial Day," the memories of a very special day spent on the U.P. Honor Flight will come to my mind.
Stephen R. Beranek