The Washington Monument stands behind the 75 veterans who embarked on the West Central Florida Honor Flight. [ Patricia Fisher | Contributed ]
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An unforgettable experience for the nation’s heroes

As a proud member of the GFWC Wewahitchka Woman’s Club, I recently had the extraordinary privilege of serving as a guardian to one of the 75 veterans who embarked on the West Central Florida Honor Flight. 

This profound experience left an indelible mark on my heart, deepening my appreciation for the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes. Growing up in a military family, with a father who served our country and a father-in-law who was a prisoner of war, instilled in me a deep respect and admiration for our servicemen and women. This trip was a way for me to give back and honor their sacrifices. 

I was selected for Mission #50, a milestone journey marking the 50th time the Honor Flight of West Central Florida sent veterans to Washington, D.C. Joining me were five other members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. This journey, meticulously planned and supported by volunteers and donations, aimed to give veterans a day of reflection, honor, and camaraderie. The journey began at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. 

The Honor Flight Network is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to transporting America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honoring their service and sacrifices. Initially focused on World War II veterans, the program has expanded to include those who served during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and veterans of any service era who are critically ill. This remarkable mission is made possible through generous donations, ensuring the honored veterans always travel free of charge.

Our day trip began with an early morning flight. Upon landing, we boarded buses that took us to our first stop, the World War II Memorial. The sense of respect and pride was palpable as we then moved to the Arlington National Cemetery to witness the changing of the guards. This solemn ceremony was a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by so many.

From Arlington Cemetery, we visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Although the Lincoln Memorial was under construction, its powerful presence was undiminished. The Vietnam Memorial was especially emotional for many veterans, as they etched the names of their fallen comrades from the wall. The sense of loss and remembrance was deeply felt, and it was a privilege to share these moments with them. 

As the day drew to a close, we were all tired, and the emotional weight of the day was settling in. On our return flight, a surprise awaited veterans: Mail Call. Unbeknownst to them, a call for letters had gone out to their family, friends, neighbors, and even schoolchildren from all over. Each veteran received a large envelope filled with cards, letters and pictures expressing heartfelt gratitude and admiration. It was a profoundly touching moment, with many veterans shedding tears as they read these heartfelt messages.

Upon our return, the veterans received a hero’s welcome that they could never have imagined. Hundreds of people gathered with signs, expressing their patriotism and admiration. If there was a dry eye after Mail Call, there certainly wasn’t after this welcome home parade. It was a life-changing day for some and a day to remember for all.

In line with this mission, GFWC Florida State President Sara Dessureau has chosen Flight to Honor as her President’s Project. This initiative underscores the importance of honoring our veterans and supporting the incredible work of the Honor Flight Network and Flight to Honor. By rallying our communities and resources, we can continue to provide these unforgettable experiences for our nation’s heroes.

Patricia Fisher is a GFWC Wewahitchka Woman’s Club Board Member, GFWC District 2 Membership Chairman and GFWC Florida 2024-26 Leadership Chairman

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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