There are so many “symbols” we readily recognize as being located in Washington. For me this monument has always been one of those that sticks out in my mind. It was unseasonably warm and beautiful our first day there. Robert Parks, Johnnie Spears, Richard Suter and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and do some sightseeing. We were close enough that we could walk to many sights from our hotel. On our stroll, I witnessed this scene:
What a contrast in the two men; both are eating lunch but one of them working as a street vendor and the other on a cart that holds all of his earthly possessions. We couldn’t believe the amount of homeless people we saw. Right in the center of our Nation’s governing body, are many men, women and children living on the streets. It was sad and sobering. If you have a home to live in, food to eat and a job you are better off than so many people that are living day to day, doing whatever they can do to just get by.
Dr. Martin Luther King
The high point of the trip was the day we were coming back home. We were very privileged to witness the arrival of an “Honor Flight” from St. Louis.
A big shout out to Southwest Airlines, they do this deal right. Our WWII Veterans are dying at the rate of 1,000 per day. For many of them, this will be their first and only visit to the beautiful memorial honoring their service and sacrifice. On a very personal note, my dad Staff Sergeant Louis Coury was one of the many proud servicemen that served our nation in these battles.
My dad, Louis J. Coury
As you can see, dad was able to make this trip a few years ago before he passed. My brother Tony was able to take him and his father-in-law on the Honor Flight. I wasn’t able to be there for my dads visit. But, I was privileged to be there for some other folks dads. It was very emotional. There is a group of people that live around Washington that serve as the “ground crew” for these flights. They represent some of the best cheerleaders I’ve ever witnessed. Clapping, cheering and calling each man out by name, they are not just “going through the motions,” they are doing it up big time! I was able to talk to a few of them and tell them the story of dad’s visit and how much it meant to him that they were there. If by chance you are one of those individuals, again I say a very heartfelt thank you for what you do!
There was a full range of emotions running through the concourse. Sons and daughters are pushing their fathers, drying tears simply overcome with the emotions of the moment. Proud of their dad’s accomplishments, and proud to call them dad. The gate announcement alerts anyone in earshot what’s happening and encourages everyone to come over and welcome them. American flags are passed out among the people waiting, and for one of the few times I’ve witnessed, time seems to stand still. No one is complaining about the delay in boarding because most of the men are in wheelchairs and it is taking a long time to get them off the plane. It’s OK. They are heroes. We will wait…gladly.