I wanted to give you an update on where we are with our planning in regards to future Great River Honor Flight missions. As you may be aware, due to the various Stay At Home Orders in the three states that the majority of our veterans reside in (Illinois, Missouri and Iowa) plus the fact that many, if not all, of the memorials in Washington, DC are currently not open to the public, we decided to cancel the first three planned missions for 2020.
Those would have taken place in April, May and June.
As both the national and state governments begin to share strategies on how to return to normalcy, we will stay on top of their requirements and make any future plans based on following them. Our number one mission remains the SAFETY of our precious cargo – OUR VETERANS. While there is nothing we would want more than to get back to scheduling Honor Flights once again, we need to be aware of the fact that what makes these trips so memorable to our veterans is not just the ability to see for themselves the various memorials, but also to experience the gratitude and appreciation that many Americans have towards them and the sacrifices they endured.
In the past, that appreciation came in the form of lots of hand-shaking, back-slapping and even some hugging – things that have taken a new meaning over the past several weeks. We want to make sure the experience of an Honor Flight remains just as strong and memorable moving forward as it has been over the past 10 years.
Getting back will be a slow, careful process. It will require the cooperation of a number of elements – among them the fact that airlines have reduced close to 80% of their flight schedules, making our need for non-stop flights in order to do the mission in one day, more of a challenge. We are also awaiting as to when the memorials will open. For example, currently, there is no public access to Arlington National Cemetery. As well as what impact will social distancing has on our planned agenda.
Bottom line, we are ready to go when the conditions warrant it. We want you to know that our commitment to our veterans is as strong today as it has ever been. We have a good list of veterans on our waiting list and are ready to add to the 1,855 local veterans that have already experienced an Honor Flight.
When that day comes, you will be the first to know. God Bless our Veterans.
God Bless America.
Great River Honor Flight Board