News>Veterans honored during Joint Service Make a Difference Day
Yeoman 2nd Class Erika Cash, assigned to Military Sealift Command, shakes the hand of a World War II veteran as she enters the World War II Memorial in downtown Washington, D.C., Oct. 20 during the Joint Services Make a Difference Day. Approximately 525 veterans participated in the Honor Flight Network program, which transports America's veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kiona Miller)
A Sailor shakes the hand of a World War II veteran as he enters the World War II Memorial in downtown Washington, D.C., Oct. 20 during the Joint Services Make a Difference Day. Approximately 525 veterans participated in the Honor Flight Network program, which transports America's veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kiona Miller)
by Mass Communications 2nd Class Kiona Miller
Naval District of Washington Public Affairs
10/23/2012 - WASHINGTON -- Military service members gathered at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor veterans during the Joint Service Make a Difference Day volunteer event, Oct. 20.
"Our veterans are a reflection of our service member's future," said Olivia Hunter, Naval District Washington (NDW) Regional Community Service Program coordinator. "I think that the same way that the veterans adore being honored and remembered they too, I'm sure, would like to receive the same type of honor and respect in the future."
Make a Difference Day is a national day of volunteering celebrated annually to promote community service. This year, nearly 200 volunteers greeted World War II veterans from Georgia, Ohio, Florida, New York and Arkansas as part of the Honor Flight Network program.
"Honor Flight is an organization that caters to all veterans and they actually provide transportation throughout the various states to come to D.C. and to tour the WWII memorial," said Hunter. "This is the largest Honor Flight this year and it will probably be the last one, that is one of the reasons why we decided to do this Honor Flight for Make a Difference Day."
Volunteers from each branch of service not only welcomed each veteran with cheers, handshakes and personal expressions of gratitude but they also assisted in unloading wheel chairs, escorting veterans throughout the memorial and even listened to war stories told by the veterans themselves.
"It's humbling," said Cryptologic Technician Networks 3rd Class Robert Murphy, assigned to Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Maryland. "We are losing more and more everyday and this is one of the only chances I feel like to get out and meet somebody that's gone before you to do what you have done, and we are following up in their footsteps."
According WWII veteran Irwin Kuhns, who served on a Landing Ship Tank as a first class petty officer during the war, it was an emotional experience to be honored by the new generation of military service members.
"It's pretty great; I get a lump in my throat," said Kuhns. "The good part of it is we've done our part the best that we could; now we are turning it over to you young people. It's in your hands now, the whole works."
Approximately 525 veterans were transported by a commercial airliner from their home state to Washington, D.C. then by a chartered bus to the memorial. The Honor Flight program has more than 117 hubs in 40 states and transported more than 81,000 WWII veterans in 2011.
"We decided to come out and show support to our veterans and let them know that we are here to thank them for the work that they did for us back in the day and giving us the country we have today," said Matthew Hogue, a student at the Defense Information School.
For more information on the Honor Flight Program visit www.honorflight.org. To see more photos from the Make a Difference Day event, please visit the Naval District Washington Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NavDistWash. For volunteers wishing to sign up for events sponsored by NDW, contact email@example.com.