Knoxville/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on April 10, 2024
HonorAir Knoxville's 34th Flight Celebrates Veterans with a Tribute Journey to Washington D.C.Source: Facebook/HonorAir Knoxville

In a heartfelt tribute to service and sacrifice, HonorAir Knoxville's 34th flight carried veterans from East Tennessee to the nation's capital on Wednesday. These honored guests, consisting of war heroes from World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War, embarked on a journey to visit the memorials erected in their esteem.

The charity, founded by local businessman Eddie Mannis, circled the skies at 9 a.m. with 132 veterans, providing an all-expense-paid trip to view the landmarks of their legacy including the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War memorials, as well as a witnessing of the solemn changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as reported by WATE. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs accompanied the vets, emphasizing the community's support for the program.

Since its 2007 inception, HonorAir Knoxville has soared beyond transporting veterans, fostering civic engagement - they now invite the public to attend a Welcome Home Celebration at the airport, expected to return at about 7:40 p.m., as described by WBIR. Historically, through this initiative over 4,100 veterans have been granted the chance to behold the granite and marble symbols of their valor, at no cost to them.

"When we return home and our veterans see all the flags, patriotic balloons and people lined up to welcome them, they are incredibly touched that people care about the sacrifices they made for their country," said Chairman Eddie Mannis, whose words captured the emotional resonance of their homecoming; these observations were obtained by WVLT. The trip, the costs of which approximate $500 per veteran, is made possible through donations which anyone can contribute to through the organization's website.

HonorAir Knoxville's program's endurance over 16 years stands testament to a community unwavering in gratitude, ensuring that those who served their nation can stand, perhaps with aged shoulders and weary eyes, before the stones that bear their triumphs and trials. The journey across states is but a simple gesture, symbolic hope of a nation's unforgotten debt to its defenders.