First, I would like to start by thanking all of our many Veterans who have unselfishly put their lives on the line protecting our way of life and the many freedoms that we enjoy every day here in these United States of America… the Greatest Country on the face of the earth. We so many times tend to take our freedoms for granted, but let us never forget that freedom never has and never will come free… and this is paid for by all of our many brave men and woman of our armed forces, past and present, with many paying the ultimate price. And even though Veterans Day has now passed, we need to remember this at all times, and as we go through life enjoying all of our paid-for freedoms, let us remember to personally thank a Veteran each and every time the opportunity arises!
Veterans Day this year was very special for me because I got to spend it with my very special friend and flying partner, Captain John Billings! (Captain John, as most know, served our Country during WWII flying as Command Pilot in a B24 Liberator with a total of 53 missions… 14 Mass Bombing Missions and 39 OSS Covert Missions. He, along with so many others of “Americas Greatest Generation” certainly played a major role in bringing us to where we are today) On this Veterans Day (2019) I was very honored to accompany Captain John to Leesburg Virginia where he was invited to talk at the JL Simpson Middle School during their Veterans Day Ceremony. It was a wonderful event and the auditorium was full with around 250 students. Along with John, another great Veteran, Sam Gates, spoke to the students about the importance of “D Day”. All of the students had created poster type boards that they held with them that honored family members that have served or is still serving in our Armed Forces… some going many generations back, at the end of the ceremony they all stood up waving their honor boards and it was absolutely amazing! When the ceremony ended, Captain John and Sam were invited back to the 8th-grade classroom of Lawana Harper who was the organizer of this event… and on our way, the halls were lined up with the students side by side along the walls holding up their honor boards as we passed! I do not want to forget to mention that all during this time, from the very point of getting out of our car, Captain John was assigned a student Ambassador and her name was Mia… Mia was wonderful and very gracious in showing us where we needed to be… and to top it off, she is a student pilot! (Flying is probably in her genes with her Dad being a Commercial Airline Pilot and her Mom being a Flight Attendant) Mia was a really big help for us, and we both want to thank her so much for making our journeys thru unknown halls less confusing!
Once we got into Lawana’s classroom, the students enjoyed listening to Captain John and Sam Gates while having the opportunity to present them with questions. It is wonderful seeing our younger generation participate in events honoring our many Veterans, and to see them engage in our history as a country that has brought us to where we are today… and even though many things today may have us divided, these events that have paid for all of our freedoms time and time again, should never divide us… but, should only bring us closer together!
I would like to thank (along with Captain John) everyone who had a part in this day, and especially to 8th Grade Teacher Lawana Harper for doing such a great job organizing this event and inviting us to be a part of it… and to Miss Mia for being such a Great Ambassador to Captain John during our visit!
We finished our visit to Leesburg by being treated to a fantastic lunch by our great friends, Steve and Gay Craven! Steve is a Chairman of Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic for whom we do our Volunteer Angel Flights. Thank you so much, Steve and Gay!
Following are some photos of the day, thanks for your time, and remember to always thank a Veteran whenever the opportunity arises! Have a Great Day!