By Mike Whittlesey

Last week, on the return flight from Washington DC, Jim Coloff encouraged the Honor Flight veterans and their guardians to thank the corporate sponsors that help make such flights possible. Coordinating the effort to transport area veterans to Washington DC and back is a massive undertaking. It is also a costly one, as the bill for airfare, meals, bus transportation and other expenses incurred during the one day field trip to the nation’s capital typically exceeds six figures.
At the heart of Sullivan-Hartogh-Davis Post 730 is a group of volunteers, a committee responsible for organizing the trips, along with raising the money to pay for them. When the final Waterloo Honor Flight of 2014 is made in September, nearly 1,000 veterans in the Cedar Valley will have received an all expense paid trip to Washington DC since the group’s inaugural flight in 2011.
As long as there is a need, the good folks associated with Waterloo Honor Flight remain committed to the task of sending area veterans to Washington DC. The cost to do so, however, is not measured solely in dollars. It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to organize each flight, from the paperwork associated with each applicant and guardian, to preparing for potential medical emergencies that may arise during the journey. These duties come with a cost, as the amount of time available for family and friends is compromised.
Over the past four years, the success of the Waterloo Honor Flight program can be traced back to the people and organizations who have stepped up and made a commitment to the veterans of the Cedar Valley when it was needed most. Last month, for example, John Deere followed the example of Burke Miehe and American Pattern & CNC Works, sponsoring a flight with a six figure donation. Likewise, as members of the Honor Flight organizing committee have relinquished their roles, other volunteers have come forward to take their place, offering a renewed sense of energy that has allowed the Honor Flight program to continue.
While dates for Waterloo Honor Flights in 2015 have yet to be confirmed, applications from veterans, guardians and other volunteers are still being accepted. To learn more about the program and to access the application forms, logon to www.shdpost730waterloohonorflight.org
Earlier this month, the La Porte City Lions Club hosted the 28th Annual Festival of Trails Celebration. While the weather cooperated nicely for the Friday evening parade and fireworks, attendance on Saturday was noticeably lighter, perhaps as a result of My Waterloo Days being held on the same weekend.
Sustaining a citywide celebration for nearly three decades is a challenge. At the heart of the Celebration is a group of volunteers, a committee responsible for organizing the weekend’s activities. As the number of members in the Lions Club has dwindled in recent years, this task has proven to be a difficult one.
The success of the Festival of Trails Celebration the past 28 years can be traced back to the volunteers who have stepped up and made a commitment when it was needed most. This year, for example, volunteers helped coordinate and organize a public relations campaign to effectively promote the Celebration. And Friday night’s parade was bigger and better than ever, thanks to those who worked diligently on the project.
Planning for next year’s Celebration has already begun and you can help. How? Take a few minutes to complete the survey posted online at www.theprogressreview.co. Your responses will be transmitted directly to Celebration organizers. As you look forward to the 29th Annual Festival of Trails in 2015, what are some of the ways you can contribute?