Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 26, 2018

Honor Flight

By Xiomara Levsen
Xiomara Levsen

CEDAR RAPIDS—Tuesday night I was able to witness and experience something astounding.
I went up to the Eastern Iowa Airport to welcome home veterans from the Honor Flight and to take pictures for today’s paper. However, I came back with so much more.
My husband, two sons, and I left our house at 9:30 p.m. We arrived at the airport around 10 p.m. and found our way to the main terminal.
Immediately, I noticed the terminal was full of people waiting for the Honor Flight to arrive. A line formed that wound its way from the exit gate to the escalators at the entrance of the airport terminal.
I estimated at least 200 people to be in attendance. At the beginning of the exit ramp were veterans holding American flags. In the crowd I noticed other veterans who had come to welcome back their comrades.
I overheard one veteran say he had been on an Honor Flight and would never forget the people welcoming him home after his long day at the Capital. He said it was the best way to end his eventful day.
I also noticed several family members of the veterans who were on the Honor Flight waiting for their loved one to come off of the plane. Some of them made signs saying ‘Welcome Home,’ some had balloons, and others had flower bouquets.
Then there were people in the crowd, such as groups from Boy Scout troops in eastern Iowa, who didn’t know any veteran in particular on the Honor Flight but just wanted to come and greet them from their trip.
At 11 p.m. the flight arrived. A band from Cedar Rapids played patriotic tunes as the veterans from the Honor Flight arrived in the terminal. I heard cheers from the veterans holding the flags at the beginning of the gate, which let me know they were here.
As the members of the Honor Flight wound their way around the line, people in the crowd thanked them for their service, shook their hands, and even gave them hugs. You could see those who went on the Honor Flight were excited to see the number of people there.
I was at the end of the line. It took a while for the attendees on the Honor Flight to wind their way around to me, but I’ll never forget their faces as they made their way through the airport terminal.  
Their faces were lit up from ear to ear with huge smiles. Some of them had tears running down their faces as they paraded through the line of people welcoming them home.
As the parade came to an end I found myself grateful that I was able to experience this. I was also happy that there was a good crowd welcoming the veterans home from their Honor Flight. They went through so much serving our country and it was nice to be able to show my appreciation for their service by being there. In the future I hope to be able to do so again.