The Progress Review’s first Memorial Day tribute to veterans was published in 2007. Looking back, it’s interesting to note the actual size of the photos published in that issue. In 2015, our ninth tribute, the photos have gotten considerably smaller, and that’s a good thing, as the total number of veterans featured has grown from 43 to 175. We were especially pleased to add several “new” veterans to the roll call this year, including some who are currently serving on active duty.
In the early 1990s, when America became engaged in Operation Desert Storm, appreciation of veterans came to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. When “boots on the ground” were deemed necessary in Iraq, then later in Afghanistan, reports of casualties brought the harsh realities of war home to the civilian population. It had been many years since so many American troops had been put in harm’s way, and the deaths of our soldiers were shocking, particularly to the those who had never experienced the somber consequences of war.
It is appropriate that our recognition of veterans with ties to La Porte City is sandwiched between Honor Flights hosted by Sullivan-Hartogh-Davis Post 730 in Waterloo. More than 90 veterans made the trip to Washington, D.C. on May 5. Another group will make the journey next month on June 16.
Four years ago, after a last-minute cancellation, I was invited to accompany the group of veterans aboard Waterloo’s second Honor Flight. It was an incredible experience to spend the day in our nation’s capital with a group of men and women who were well-acquainted with the ultimate sacrifices made by their friends and comrades during World War II and the Korean War. The Progress Review has been fortunate to travel on each of the successive Honor Flights to continue the tradition of producing a souvenir DVD for each veteran aboard the flight.
With each trip I make to Washington D.C., I am reminded how pleased and proud my dad would have been to view each of the monuments and memorials on the Honor Flight itinerary. Of course, as a 22-year veteran of the Air Force who served a tour of duty in Vietnam when I was very young, he would have been partial to the USAF Memorial and its spires that soar 270 feet into the wild blue yonder.
This year’s Memorial Day tribute to our veterans is a special section that begins on page 11. Each of the 175 veterans pictured have their own unique stories of the service that was given to their country. At the same time, it is important to also remember the sacrifices made by the families of the members of our armed forces.
As we pause on this Memorial Day, we offer a heartfelt, “Thank you for your service,” to veterans and their loved ones for their service and sacrifice to ensure our way of life.
As a special tribute, we invite our readers to enjoy some of the images from the May 5, 2015 Honor Flight we’ve posted online in the form of a video slideshow. While the brief program represents just a fraction of the Honor Flight experience, it summarizes their day in a very powerful way. To view the slideshow, logon to www.theprogressreview.co.