Last Friday I had the pleasure of listening to Carlos Fernandez present a wonderful program on the Freedom Flight program. The latest flight took place last Saturday which marked the 50th flight in the program which began in the Hannibal-Quincy area in 2010.

So far 1,636 veterans have been able to take the Freedom Flight at no charge to them. There were other Freedom Flights happening prior to 2010, but none of them were close to our area.  That’s when Carlos and other volunteers decided to bring it here.

Initially it was for World War Two Veterans and then Korean War Veterans.  As we continue to lose those veterans, the program has now taken on the Vietnam Veterans as well.

According to Carlos, these flights are more than seeing memorials in Washington, D.C., but more about the gratitude people show these veterans.  That gratitude not only occurs in our nation’s capital but also here at home with large turnouts at the welcome home ceremonies as well.  Plus there is the fabulous parade of bikers and first responders who lead the veterans back from the airport in St. Louis.

Donations since 2009 have kept the program going without any real attempt to solicit more money. The local Honor Flight is just one of 132 hubs around the country in 46 states. Many of those are having to solicit funding to keep their flights going. That is not the case here, which is a testimony to people in the Tri-State area who recognize who our real heroes are.