A world record breaking crowd of 28,422 people filled Miller Park honoring United States veterans with their presence at the premiere of the Honor Flight documentary: Field of Honor: A Salute to the Greatest Generation.
The film, directed and produced by Freethink Media, featured the evolution of the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight chapter , and documented a veterans experience on their journey to Washington D.C. to see their World War II memorial for the first time.
To the under-informed, an organization like Honor Flight is a nice thing people are doing for veterans -- it is much more than that.
World War II soldiers are today what would be high school and college kids, who asked few questions when called upon to serve and gave everything for their country. When the survivors returned, they did not want to talk about what had happened; rather, they just wanted to get on with their lives. Stories were buried and veterans were never thanked. It took 60 years for a memorial to be built in their honor -- now WWII veterans are in their 80s and 90s dying at a rate of 1 every 90 seconds. Many are too ill or do not have the finances to travel to see their memorial -- their thank you.
Honor Flight is an important, and long overdue thank you mission.
Film is the highest form of art. It paints a picture, tells a story, and in minutes can put viewers in the shoes of another. As the documentary aired, I could feel people flipping the mental switch of understanding. Witnessing 28,422 people simultaneously "get it" was overwhelming.
I had the fortune of sitting next to one of the featured veterans, Harvey Kurz. "War is Hell" is no cliché to guys like Harvey -- he was at the Battle of Iwo Jima, arguably the bloodiest conflict of World War II. When I recognized him, I worked up the courage to introduce myself and attempt to thank him for, well, everything. We shook hands and his grip firmed as we made eye contact. Without letting go of my hand, he smiled and, before I could get a word in, thanked me for coming. "Son, without people like you events like this would never happen."
How typical of the generation that gave everything and asked for nothing.
Harvey, without people like you, this world would be a different place -- my very existence may have never happened. Thank you Harvey, and thank you to all of our veterans!
Heroic Harvey Kurz
Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has successfully completed 12 Honor Flights to Washington, D.C. flying 1,800 veterans from southeast Wisconsin since the fall of 2008. Two more Honor Flights will happen this spring on April 28th and June 2nd taking another 330 WWII veterans to see their memorials. Nationwide, there are regional hubs and veterans who need your help. Learn more about how to help ensure that honor flights continue.There are currently 475 veterans on the SSHF wait list and the list grows by the day. In a decade, there will be no more World War II veterans alive to thank.