On Saturday night, 225 of my favorite people gathered for the Honor Flight movie at St. Dominic’s. For those of you who may not be familiar with the movie, Honor Flight is a wonderful, heartwarming documentary about four Milwaukee-area World War II veterans, and how our larger community raced against the clock to give them the trip of a lifetime. Volunteers continue to come together to fly thousands of World War II veterans to Washington, DC to see the memorial constructed for them in 2004, nearly 60 years after their epic struggle.
Honor Flight also chronicles the stories of veterans Joe Demler and Harvey Kurz. They raise money for and promote the Honor Flight program to help fly as many of their fellow veterans as possible. Joe, a soft-spoken retired postmaster, was famously pictured in Life magazine as “the Human Skeleton” upon his liberation from a German POW camp. Days from death, he weighed just 70 lbs. His comedic sidekick, Harvey, saw the iconic flag go up at the Battle of Iwo Jima, unbeknownst to the shoppers he bags groceries for at the local Pick n’ Save.
Among those who gathered on Saturday were 30 veterans, many from St. Dominic’s — some who served in World War II, some in Korea, some in Vietnam. Some of them I didn’t even know served in the armed forces during wartime. Two of our parishioners who served in World War II, Bruno Jablonski and Lyle Voelker, both will be on the next Honor Flight.
What a privilege it was to be there on Saturday night, to honor those — 18- and 19-year-olds largely — who were sent off to war and to change the course of the world. For all of our parish veterans, as well as all of the veterans we know and love, thank you for your sacrifice and your service.
The prayer, from Father Brad:
Henry- Dominique Lacordaire, O.P.: “The vocation of a soldier is next in dignity to the priesthood, not only because it commissions a person to defend justice on the field of battle and order on the field of peace, but because it also calls people to the spirit and intention of sacrifice.”
God of peace,
we pray for those who have served our nation
and have laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.
We pray for those who have fought,
whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted by memories
too painful for the light of day.
We honor our veterans,
worthy men and women
who gave their best
when they were called upon
to serve and protect or country.
We respect them, we thank them,
we honor them, we are proud of them,
and we pray that you will watch over
these special people
and bless them with peace and happiness.
We pray for those who serve us now,
especially for those in harm’s way.
Shield them from physical danger and spiritual harm
Bring them safely home.
May the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.
We ask this through Christ our Risen Lord.