Indy Honor Flight-- An honorable observation

A long overdue welcome back home,

A trip to our Capital will attempt to suffice.

Because an application was submitted

To honor a never forgotten sacrifice.

An appointment is made for a personal visit

Discussing name, rank, and credentials from service years before.

Soon turns into camaraderie, coffee, and trust.

Proud stories and faded photos strewn on the table and floor.

Strategic maneuvers needed to arrange each soldier.

Before the call comes, many months may pass,

Eventually the numbers align and scheduled names fall into place.

The date, flight number, and guardian are official at last.

All accounted for and assembled for a ceremonious meal

To calm nerves and prepare on the eve of the flight.

Nearly 200 veterans from all branches together

They all are connected by a shared, long ago plight.

In true military fashion, this they comprehend,

Details for the next day are drilled and repeated.

Conveyed with utmost admiration and respect

For each old soldier seated.

A somewhat restless night spent

Till finally sleep gives submission.

Anticipating the adventure forthcoming,

The proud veteran's next mission.

Awake before the sun rises, to prepare for the day,

Perhaps butterflies and some slight hesitation.

And unlike days long ago, young, hard and so fit,

These days are morning routine and prescribed medication.

Another assembly to read the roll call,

A hearty breakfast served by early risers so grateful.

An army of folks tend to tasks, refuse fanfare.

Tireless volunteers, paying back to these soldiers, so faithful.

Aboard the buses and shuttles for a jaunt to the port.

The rising sun brings terminal and air traffic into sight.

No need for check ins or luggage, any deterrent,

These passengers are heroes on an exclusive chartered flight.

Veterans all settled in, preparing to depart.

The crew goes to work, treats each soldier first class.

The pilot breaks silence, announces to all

How proud and honored he is to be performing this task.

In no time, wheels up and ascending.

For months of preparation this flight is quite short.

The crew bustling about, attending to needs.

Soon descent, smooth landing, at Reagan Airport.

Loading on charter buses, a schedule to keep.

Distinguished cargo of old soldiers, wide eyed at the sights.

They've three main stops to make,

Deemed must sees, true highlights.

The Lincoln Memorial, so majestic so large.

Honest Abe oversees all, perched in his massive marble chair.

Savior of our Union, divine messages throughout,

A sense of unrivaled sacrifice, then unity hang in the air.

Wise words chiseled in stone adorn hallowed walls.

Hard bold phrases of truth, with all inclusive love coming through.

Dark days of our young nation, divided, conflicted,

This revered President sought to unite and begin healing anew.

WWII, Korea, and Vietnam Wars, all a world away on the map.

Memorials to these soldiers, symbolism runs deep.

How each is perceived when viewed and encountered,

Personal thoughts, memories, each old soldier will keep.

A walk among these testaments that include so many souls.

The entire earth affected, a truly global tone.

These veterans' somber thoughts return to bygone years,

Remembering brothers and comrades that never returned home.

Arlington Cemetery, peculiarly acquired, this most sacred ground.

400,000 who paid the ultimate are buried in its depths.

Ironically peaceful, final resting place of warriors,

Over 600 acres, serene geometry in death.

The Tomb Of The Unknown, forever under watch.

21 Sentinel paces, 21 clock ticks to protect.

When the time comes for relief, the change of the guard,

Witness honor, loyal, fearless, honed, perfect.

The day has been long, overflowing sensation.

Back to the charter, fueled and ready it sits.

A placid takeoff, homeward journey for time of reflection.

Deep sigh of relaxation, an old soldier's brief rest.

The success of a military mission as this,

No doubt is the element of surprise.

An earned honor, this flight, no secret I've let,

Treasuring the humbleness, pride and delight in their eyes.

The long awaited, well planned mission accomplished,

Mind flooding memories of homage and long ago strife.

The flight's motive, indebtedness, a bygone unembellished return

The modest veteran simply goes home, and returns to his life