Having enjoyed peace and stability since the end of World War II, it is often easy for Americans to forget a generation that sacrificed so much to defend these principles. Many veterans from that generation are still with us, but 800 die each day. An organization called Stars and Stripes Honor Flight realizes this sense of urgency and has created a wonderful program to honor veterans of World War II, as well as veterans from the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
This organization was founded in 2005, when a physician from Ohio felt he needed to do something to give back to the Greatest Generation. Since then, the organization has flown or driven more than 100,000 veterans to see the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. Through the course of a 20-hour day, veterans from all across America are escorted by volunteers who take them to each war memorial in the nation’s capital.
It is difficult for the Greatest Generation to forget the sacrifices they made during World War II. It is easier for the American public to forget the bravery and courage these young men showed at a time when American values were threatened. The most well-known victories and all of the battles in between seem to fade in the distance as time passes on; in the absence of war, we seem to discount the price of peace and freedom.
These men, however, will never forget. They had little time to prepare for the realities of war, yet they fought bravely for their country. They spent sleepless nights and hunger-ridden days far from home. Some returned, but many did not.
Organizations such as Honor Flight draw attention to the armed forces and their crucial role in our nation’s security, which is as important today as it was during the time in which the Greatest Generation fought.
Peace is not guaranteed; it must be promoted and protected. The preamble to the Constitution states that the U.S. government must provide for the common defense. As George Washington so aptly said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” Congress should ensure that our government supports its armed forces in order to preserve peace and maintain its stance as the strongest military in the world.
Sarah Wallace is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.