Thank you for your Service!

Posted: June 9, 2010 in Family

Honor Flight – “thank you for your service.”

"Rochester Honor Flight" "Honor Flight Rochester" "Honor Flight" "Tom Cox" "Colby Cox" "Bobby Cox" "Ronald Cox"

4 Generations of Cox Men

During my life my Dad has provided me with a multitude of opportunities.  He possesses vast talents in addition to being a wonderful teacher, coach, cheerleader and is a remarkable man of integrity.  In his 89 years he has touched the lives of many.  This past weekend I had the opportunity to see him and 50 other members of the “world’s greatest generation” in an entirely different light.  I was my Dad’s Guardian on a Rochester Honor Flight.  Honor Flight is a national program that is dedicated to honoring the men and women who served in World War II by transporting them to Washington D.C. to be received by a grateful nation.  The highlight is visiting their memorial – The World War II Memorial.

Our day started by rising at about 4:00 AM so that we could get to the Rochester Airport to catch our Honor Flight to Baltimore Washington International.  We passed through security with our group of 105 men and women.  The line moved slowly as we had quite a collection of vets with hip and knee replacements, pacemakers and shrapnel!  But the theme for the day was beginning to develop with the vets being greeted by numerous people hugging them or shaking their hands and saying “Thank you for your service!” Chests started to swell and tears began to flow as these veterans started to realize that there were people who understood, and valued, their contribution to our nation.  By 7:00 we were airborne and on our mission.

Landing at BWI we knew that we would be taking a bus to our first stop in Arlington for the changing of the guard.  Little did we know that there would be a warm welcome by a large crowd of civilians and men and women of today’s military who applauded, cheered and again, “thank you for your service” were the words of appreciation.  Our two busses transported us right to the Tomb and we unloaded veterans and wheelchairs and proceeded to view the changing.  As taps sounded the veterans ceased moving and silently honored their fallen comrades.  Again, these humble heroes were reminded of the sacrifice that has supported our freedom.  As we left the Tomb at the conclusion of the ceremony there was a line of men and women, school groups and military who applauded, shook hands and said “thank you for your service” until each veteran had reached the loading point for our bus.

The next stop was the World War II Memorial.  When we offloaded there was a large group of Viet Nam Veterans who shook hands and thanked the WWII vets and said “welcome to your memorial.”  There were also a couple little girls who were handing out little stickers that said “Kilroy was here!”  The next hour was spent moving about this beautiful memorial.  Pictures were taken, stories were shared and connections were made with members of Honor Flights from other parts of the United States. (There were 6 Honor Flights in DC on this day.)

We returned to the busses and toured our nation’s capital while eating our lunches.  There were not many sights that were missed.  We concluded the day with stops at the Korean, Viet Nam and Lincoln Memorial.  A group picture at Iwo Jima was enhanced by a group of high school students from Alabama who sang “God Bless the USA” while the picture was being taken.  Many more “thank you for your service” hugs and shakes and we were on to our last stop at the new Air Force Memorial.  We journeyed back to BWI and spent the evening at the BWI Hilton and after a bit of social time and a banquet it was an early pillow for most of us.

Many special things happened during this weekend but one that particularly moved me was an Air Force Major who, while we were waiting to board our plane, shook the hand of each and every vet in our group and thanked them for their service.  When asked what he was doing he replied that he was on his way home after a year in Iraq.  Our vets gave him a thumbs up and said “keep carrying on.”  It was clear that the freedom that these men and women fought for is being respected and protected by yet another generation of youngsters who have answered the call of duty with the same sense of character and courage.

The flight home was greeted by over two hundred family members as well as other grateful Americans, an Ontario Boy Scout Troop, Marines and others.  These veterans finally received their welcome home and thank you for their service.  My Dad had commented during the trip that when he came home he got off the train in Rochester with about five other people and no reception of any kind, and he really had not expected one.  The other vets spoke of coming home after horrific experiences and just going back to work or school.

My dad’s trip was made even more special as my brother flew in from Savannah to surprise him and be with us for a short time.  My son Colby and Grandson Kadyn came in to be with us during the day and the rest of the family was in Rochester to welcome all of us home.

My dad is my hero as each of these vets is a hero in their family.  When you have the opportunity to cross paths with a member of our greatest generation who served to protect our way of life be sure to thank them for their service.  On further thought, make sure that if you pass any current member of our armed service that you thank them for their service.  None of these men and women, boys and girls should have to wait for 60 years to be honored.  Do it now and do it often.  Thank them all for their service!

If you would like to contribute or learn more go to

Tom Cox

Walworth, New York


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