My daughter, Kayla, is the guest writer for this month’s newsletter article.  I hope you enjoy reading a 27-year-old’s perspective on Honor Flight, an organization that takes veterans to Washington, D.C. — at zero cost to them — and tours them around their own war memorials.  Anyone can apply to go on an Honor Flight as what’s called a “Guardian” to accompany the veterans.  (While Honor Flight is free for veterans, Guardians are responsible for paying their own way).  I’ve been a Guardian on two Honor Flights: In 2017, I went with my son Hayden and my business partner, Steve.  In 2018, I went with my 3 other kids (Kayla, Tate, and Dexter) and my wife, Tanja.  It’s an experience that is hard to put into words, but Kayla gives it a darned good shot below.  — Greg

The 48 Hours that Changes Thousands of Lives

by Kayla Hughes

On the left is my wife, Tanja, and on the right is my daughter, Kayla.  They are standing with Lauretta, a veteran we all met on last year’s Honor Flight trip.  Kayla and Lauretta became especially close after Lauretta rehashed memories from the war and stories about her family.  This photo was taken after Kayla’s tear-worthy speech on our last night together as a group.

It’s been almost a year since my dad, my mom, two of my brothers, and I had the privilege to travel to Washington, D.C. on an Honor Flight to accompany veterans on a trip to visit their war memorials.  My brother Hayden couldn’t go with us, as he was busy serving our country in the U.S. Air Force in Japan, where he’s been living for over a year.  I couldn’t be prouder that he has joined the ranks of these other amazing men and women who have given so much to this beautiful place we call home.

How time flies!  I just looked over photos from our Honor Flight trip and remembered the veterans who stole my heart in that whirlwind weekend.  (If you haven’t read my original article about what I learned from my Honor Flight trip, go to bit.ly/HonorFlight18.)  There was Bobby, the Korean War veteran who got lost in a sea of tourists at the memorial.  He and I have kept in touch and have traded postcards and letters throughout the year.  It’s always special to hear from him. Then, there was Dutch, the Vietnam veteran I pushed in a wheelchair along the Vietnam Wall Memorial.  I sent Dutch a postcard, but I haven’t heard from him.  I know he lives a quiet, remote life and is probably enjoying his peace.  Oh yes, and there was Ernie, the veteran I got in trouble with when we went on our own unapproved adventure to the Lincoln Memorial.  We had a blast stealing away, and we giggled like school kids, even after we got a scolding!  I checked in once with Ernie, giving him a call around a month after our trip.  Even though I knew him for only a brief, but wonderful weekend, it was heartbreaking to hear that he has since passed away.  I’m grateful he was able to experience the trip he deserved: to see his own war memorial before he passed. 

 

 

Here’s something you should know about me: I’m an easy crier.  Everything about this trip makes me want to cry.  It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday life and the things that upset me or don’t go my way.  But when I stop for 10 seconds to remember the hardships these veterans went through, I just feel silly thinking anything in my life is hard.  I am currently writing this sitting comfortably in the back seat of a car, being shuttled to visit my boyfriend’s family in Northern California.  I work 100% remotely, anywhere, anytime, in a job my friends will tell you I like a little too much.  How did I get so lucky?  It’s important for me to remind myself that the amazing life I have today is only possible because of the sacrifices countless brave men and women have made for us.

Life in America is so different today than it was back in the days of World War II, the Korean War, and even the Vietnam War.  My entire family is going to visit my brother Hayden on the Air Force base in Japan next week.  Was that something soldiers’ families got to do in World War II?  I don’t think so.  As a 27-year-old American woman, I’ve lived through very few hard times.  It’s laughable to even entertain the notion that anything I’ve lived could be considered “hard.”  I’m annoyed to no end by the entitlement culture my generation has created.  Their lives are SO GOOD, they are arguing about who can use which bathroom and which gender pronoun they prefer.  If everyone my age spent an hour talking to a veteran, it might shake them out of their little bubble of “problems.”

At the end of our Honor Flight weekend, we had a final dinner together as a group.  A microphone was being passed around, and the vets were talking about how much the weekend meant to them.  I did NOT volunteer, as I am not a fan of public speaking, but apparently people wanted to hear what the younger generation thought of the experience.  Somehow, the microphone was suddenly in my hand, and I had to speak in front of this big group of people.  Like I said, I’m an easy crier.  I took one look at the crowd — most of whom I would call friends after just having spent such a powerful weekend together — and I immediately started crying.  It wasn’t pretty, either.  It was the hiccupping, sniffling, sobbing kind of crying.  Through my tears, I tried to explain that, as a young American woman, I’ve been through very little hardship — or at least nothing like these great men and women before me have experienced.  I’d lived through the war in Afghanistan, 9/11, and the Great Recession, but they hadn’t really affected me in the way that giving your life for your country would.  I tried to convey the depth of gratefulness I had for my audience, but I think it was too hard to put into words.  After my speech, I got a big applause and tons of hugs from the veterans.  What a rewarding experience, to have strangers of different generations connect over the love of our country and appreciation for one another, in only 48 hours.

If any of this strikes a chord in you, PLEASE look into Honor Flight, as there are many ways to participateHonor Flight is an impressive, well-run organization that genuinely cares about veterans and works hard to create an experience that changes their lives.  Honor Flight Nevada has already served more than 1,000 local veterans and has hundreds of applicants still waiting to be called.

You can help by:

  • Becoming a Guardian, like I did, and accompanying veterans on a trip to D.C. for the journey of a lifetime
  • Donating to Honor Flight ($1,000 sponsors a vet’s trip)
  • Volunteering your time to Honor Flight, without the travel
  • Welcoming our vets at the airport (This is a REALLY fun and rewarding way to support them. There’s lots of fanfare, tears, and celebration!)

I can easily say it was one of the best weekends of my life, as it reminded me how lucky and proud I am to be an American.

My daughter, Kayla, is the guest writer for this month’s newsletter article.  I hope you enjoy reading a 27-year-old’s perspective on Honor Flight, an organization that takes veterans to Washington, D.C. — at zero cost to them — and tours them around their own war memorials.  Anyone can apply to go on an Honor Flight as what’s called a “Guardian” to accompany the veterans.  (While Honor Flight is free for veterans, Guardians are responsible for paying their own way).  I’ve been a Guardian on two Honor Flights: In 2017, I went with my son Hayden and my business partner, Steve.  In 2018, I went with my 3 other kids (Kayla, Tate, and Dexter) and my wife, Tanja.  It’s an experience that is hard to put into words, but Kayla gives it a darned good shot below.  — Greg

The 48 Hours that Changes Thousands of Lives

by Kayla Hughes

It’s been almost a year since my dad, my mom, two of my brothers, and I had the privilege to travel to Washington, D.C. on an Honor Flight to accompany veterans on a trip to visit their war memorials.  My brother Hayden couldn’t go with us, as he was busy serving our country in the U.S. Air Force in Japan, where he’s been living for over a year.  I couldn’t be prouder that he has joined the ranks of these other amazing men and women who have given so much to this beautiful place we call home.

On the left is my wife, Tanja, and on the right is my daughter, Kayla. They are standing with Lauretta, a veteran we all had the honor of meeting on last year’s Honor Flight trip.

How time flies!  I just looked over photos from our Honor Flight trip and remembered the veterans who stole my heart in that whirlwind weekend.  (If you haven’t read my original article about what I learned from my Honor Flight trip, go to bit.ly/HonorFlight18.) 

There was Bobby, the Korean War veteran who got lost in a sea of tourists at the memorial.  He and I have kept in touch and have traded postcards and letters throughout the year.  It’s always special to hear from him.

Then, there was Dutch, the Vietnam veteran I pushed in a wheelchair along the Vietnam Wall Memorial.  I sent Dutch a postcard, but I haven’t heard from him.  I know he lives a quiet, remote life and is probably enjoying his peace. 

Oh yes, and there was Ernie, the veteran I got in trouble with when we went on our own unapproved adventure to the Lincoln Memorial.  We had a blast stealing away, and we giggled like school kids, even after we got a scolding!  I checked in once with Ernie, giving him a call around a month after our trip.  Even though I knew him for only a brief, but wonderful weekend, it was heartbreaking to hear that he has since passed away.  I’m grateful he was able to experience the trip he deserved: to see his own war memorial before he passed. 

Here’s something you should know about me: I’m an easy crier.  Everything about this trip makes me want to cry.  It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday life and the things that upset me or don’t go my way.  But when I stop for 10 seconds to remember the hardships these veterans went through, I just feel silly thinking anything in my life is hard.  I am currently writing this sitting comfortably in the back seat of a car, being shuttled to visit my boyfriend’s family in Northern California.  I work 100% remotely, anywhere, anytime, in a job my friends will tell you I like a little too much.  How did I get so lucky?  It’s important for me to remind myself that the amazing life I have today is only possible because of the sacrifices countless brave men and women have made for us.

Life in America is so different today than it was back in the days of World War II, the Korean War, and even the Vietnam War.  My entire family is going to visit my brother Hayden on the Air Force base in Japan next week.  Was that something soldiers’ families got to do in World War II?  I don’t think so.  As a 27-year-old American woman, I’ve lived through very few hard times.  It’s laughable to even entertain the notion that anything I’ve lived could be considered “hard.”  I’m annoyed to no end by the entitlement culture my generation has created.  Their lives are SO GOOD, they are arguing about who can use which bathroom and which gender pronoun they prefer.  If everyone my age spent an hour talking to a veteran, it might shake them out of their little bubble of “problems.”

At the end of our Honor Flight weekend, we had a final dinner together as a group.  A microphone was being passed around, and the vets were talking about how much the weekend meant to them.  I did NOT volunteer, as I am not a fan of public speaking, but apparently people wanted to hear what the younger generation thought of the experience.  Somehow, the microphone was suddenly in my hand, and I had to speak in front of this big group of people.  Like I said, I’m an easy crier.  I took one look at the crowd — most of whom I would call friends after just having spent such a powerful weekend together — and I immediately started crying.  It wasn’t pretty, either.  It was the hiccupping, sniffling, sobbing kind of crying.  Through my tears, I tried to explain that, as a young American woman, I’ve been through very little hardship — or at least nothing like these great men and women before me have experienced.  I’d lived through the war in Afghanistan, 9/11, and the Great Recession, but they hadn’t really affected me in the way that giving your life for your country would.  I tried to convey the depth of gratefulness I had for my audience, but I think it was too hard to put into words.  After my speech, I got a big applause and tons of hugs from the veterans.  What a rewarding experience, to have strangers of different generations connect over the love of our country and appreciation for one another, in only 48 hours.

If any of this strikes a chord in you, PLEASE look into Honor Flight, as there are many ways to participateHonor Flight is an impressive, well-run organization that genuinely cares about veterans and works hard to create an experience that changes their lives.  Honor Flight Nevada has already served more than 1,000 local veterans and has hundreds of applicants still waiting to be called.

You can help by:

  • Becoming a Guardian, like I did, and accompanying veterans on a trip to D.C. for the journey of a lifetime
  • Donating to Honor Flight ($1,000 sponsors a vet’s trip)
  • Volunteering your time to Honor Flight, without the travel
  • Welcoming our vets at the airport (This is a REALLY fun and rewarding way to support them. There’s lots of fanfare, tears, and celebration!)

I can easily say it was one of the best weekends of my life, as it reminded me how lucky and proud I am to be an American.