A Glorious Occasion: Midwest CareCenter volunteer Fr. Dennis Logue shares Honor Flight experience
Posted by Fr. Dennis Logue
Catholic priest and Midwest CareCenter volunteer, Fr. Dennis Logue, participated in Lake County Honor Flight in June. Midwest CareCenter's We Honor Veterans program partners with Lake County Honor Flight to send veterans to honor their service by sending them on an overnight trip to Washington D.C. to see their war memorials, with priority given to World War II and Korean War vets. Here, Fr. Logue describes his experience:
I've you've never gone on an Honor Flight, you just can't imagine what the trip is like.
Like all participants, I applied for the trip and ultimately received a letter of acceptance. I left my home at Divine Word Residence in Techny at 2:15 a.m. in a stretch limo with my guardian, Divine Word Residence Head Nurse Mary Agnes Graehling. There were four novices – students studying to become missionaries – and a novice master at our residence with big Honor Flight posters to greet us as we left.
I left feeling good about it, because it was a glorious occasion.
When we arrived in North Chicago, where 20 fellow veterans would meet before our flight to Washington D.C., we were met with a 24-motocycle escort with police cars in front of that. We didn't stop for anything on our way!
There were seven World War II vets, including me, and 14 from the Korean War. It was such a nice atmosphere with them throughout the trip, sharing this experience with others who served.
Once we landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and exited the plane up a tunnel, we were greed by a throng of Naval officers, other military, and people young and old. There seemed no end to them, and they were all there to greet us. I did more shaking hand than I ever had – it was like the Pope! People just come along and casually thank you for your service. It was joyous.
Our first stop was the World War II memorial and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's grandson was there to speak in honor of D-Day. This was especially important to me, since I knew FDR's personal secretary from a prayer group I attended long ago in New Jersey.
Then we experienced a wonderful whirlwind of sights: the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, Women in Military Service for America Memorial; Arlington National Cemetery, where they played Taps at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier and we watched the laying of the wreathes; the Korea and U.S. Air Force memorials; and the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, which greatly impressed me.
We each wore our military hats and either red or white shirts that said "Veteran," and every time someone would notice they'd ask us for a photo and thank us for our service, once again.
The day ended with a dinner at the American Legion in Fairfax before we headed home the next morning. On our way back, there was a surprise military-style mail call on the plane and I must have had 5 lbs. of mail!
We arrived back at North Chicago and it was pouring rain, nevertheless the lawn was covered in flags, Navy cadets were there and we had an impressive gathering and reception.
Luckily, the group let me lead them in a small service to end our trip and I said to them: "We have traveled together, we have sung together, now let's pray together." And as I said the Lord's Prayer, the swell of voices sounded so strong, it was like we were in a huge cathedral.
Honor Flight meant so much to each of us, because we were not honored when we were discharged from service 60 years ago. My brothers, who were both veterans, said "Welcome home" and that was it before moving on with life.
Recently I was at the eye doctor, where I always like to talk to other patients in the waiting room. He happened to be a fellow World War II vet who said he was considering the honor flight. And so I told him the story I've just shared with you and said "Go for it!"