There is an ongoing effort in Tucson, and nationwide, aimed at making sure World War II Veterans get the opportunity to stand at the memorial in Washington D.C.
The Honor Flight of Southern Arizona may not be in panic mode, but they know time is of the essence, and that many of those men and women who served in World War II between 1939 and 1945 have yet to see the tribute that was established in their honor.
One reason for that is that World War II Veterans are dying at a pace of almost one every nine seconds. Secondly, these Veterans haven’t gotten to see the memorial because it took so long to build.
The World War II memorial at the nation’s capital wasn’t opened until 2004, nearly 59 years after the war ended. The World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home.
However, representatives of the Honor Flight of Southern Arizona are worried local Veterans won’t get the opportunity to see the memorial unless they help raise funds to make it possible.
Alice Cook, a resident of Northwest Tucson, has taken the trip. She serves as a guardian in the program. Guardians are nurses and others who help aide the Veterans on the trip. Cook is a nurse.
Cook said there are only three Arizona programs raising funds to help Veterans go to the memorial, with the Southern Arizona program getting under way last year.
This year, trips are planned in May and June, but there is a need for so many more trips with more than 200 Veterans on the waiting list. The $1,000 trip is three days, two nights, which is funded through the Honor Flight of Southern Arizona, a 501c(3) organization.
“We want to make sure that World War II Vets get to see their own memorial,” said Cook. “They had to wait an awfully long time to see this memorial even get built. World War II vets were not really honored rightfully when the war ended.”
Cook said time is of the essence to raise the money to make sure all World War II Veterans in Southern Arizona make the trip.
“In a matter of just a few years we won’t have any World War II Vets left,” said Cook. “It’s a very life-changing experience for them. It not only changes the Veterans, but everyone on that plane is in tears by the time we leave.”
Cook, a Vietnam Veteran, said Americans owe a lot to World War II Veterans.
“If it weren’t for these Veterans, we might be speaking Japanese,” she said.
Besides donations, Honor Flight Southern Arizona continues to sign up World War II Vets on the waiting list, and is always looking for volunteers.
For more information, visit the website at www.honorflightsaz.org, or call 204-1390.