The Greater St. Louis Honor Flight’s mission is to allow as many World War II Veterans who live in our area as possible to travel to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial commemorating their service.
During this one-day trip, the Veterans also visit the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials, and Arlington National Cemetery, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Air Force, Marine, and Navy memorials.
“Welcome Home” Ceremony Honors Veterans Who Can’t Make the Flight
Participation in the Honor Flight program is determined according to specific criteria – terminally ill Veterans from any era have top priority, followed by veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. However, an increasing number of WWII veterans are unable to take the actual flight to Washington, D.C. due to health issues.
Still, the organization wanted these Veterans to be able to participate, and therefore, developed an alternative “flightless” program that allows veterans to be included in the “Welcome Home” ceremony that occurs when the traveling Veterans return to Lambert Airport after their day in Washington.
The “Welcome Home” ceremony is a wonderful opportunity for family, friends, and the public to welcome the Veterans home and thank them for their service. The “Welcome Home” ceremony acknowledges each Veteran for the years and branch in which they served in the United States Military, and awards each participant with a certificate of recognition.
Amos Wilson and Leslie Schaeffer at the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight’s “Welcome Home” ceremony in March 2018.
Bethesda Welcomes Home Our Veteran Residents
That is how Amos Wilson, a Bethesda Hospice Care patient and resident at Bethesda Dilworth, was able to participate in the “Welcome Home” ceremony in March. He beamed when his name was read and the crowd cheered. When asked whether the ceremony touched his heart, Amos replied, “Yes, that is a good way to describe it.”
Leslie Schaeffer, the Community Outreach Coordinator at Bethesda Hospice Care, attended the ceremony during which Amos was welcomed home. “It was an honor to be able to attend this ceremony and welcome Mr. Wilson home. He is one of our nation’s heroes. Even if the person is receiving service through Hospice Care, it is never too late to give them a warm welcome home.”
During the last 10 years, Leslie is aware of at least 10 Bethesda residents who have traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of the “Welcome Home” program, including those that had lived in Bethesda Barclay House (Clayton), Bethesda Orchard (Webster Groves), Bethesda Gardens (Kirkwood) and Bethesda Terrace (South County).
This is the first ceremony Leslie has attended in which a Bethesda resident was involved in the flightless segment of the ceremony.
Learn more about the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight and the flightless “Welcome Home” ceremony by visiting their website. If you know a Veteran who would like to participate in the Honor Flight or the flightless ceremony, fill out an online application with the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight.
Bethesda thanks our Veteran residents and their families for their service.