Fireworks group's Honor Flight donation will fly 44 vets to DC
The Fireworks Committee recently presented a $4,400 check to Honor Flight New England, so the area’s most senior veterans can go to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials to the wars they served in.
The committee in Springfield has donated money to Honor Flight every year for the past five years or so. They became involved through Crown Point Country Club board chair Peter Annis, whose father-in-law visited the World War II memorial through Honor Flight for the first time at age 97. He and other veterans were escorted around Washington, D.C. through police cars and celebrated by citizens throughout the trip.
“It was a very moving event from the time they were picked up to the time they returned,” said Annis.
Annis’s father-in-law died last December at age 99.
This year, the money the fireworks committee raised will go toward 44 veterans from all over New England scheduled to take a private charter plane to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23.
One veteran on the flight is a 102 year-old woman from Springfield, Massachusetts. Another is a Korean War veteran from Benson, Vermont and another is a 30-year-old terminally ill veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The veterans will visit the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial, among others.
The experience gives veterans an opportunity to share their story with fellow veterans — those who best understand their story.
“[The experience is] very therapeutic for them,” said Honor Flight New England Founder and Executive Director Joe Byron.
Honor Flight New England has transported 1,900 veterans to Washington, D.C. since the program began in 2009. The nonprofit takes applications from all veterans, but prioritizes those who served in World War II and those who are terminally ill.