The mission of Midwest Honor Flight is to transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country.
Each flight chartered by Midwest Honor Flight carries approximately 84 veterans and their guardian escorts to Washington D.C. and back. The cost for each flight is around $150,000 or just under $1,800 a Veteran. Midwest Honor Flights serves Northwest Iowa, South Dakota, and Southwest Minnesota and is 100% volunteer.Each Midwest Honor Flight can cost up to $50,000. Midwest Honor Flight serves Northwest Iowa, South Dakota and Southwest Minnesota and is 100% volunteer.
Currently, 732 veterans have taken their flight in the Midwest Region, and more than 750 Veterans are waiting to take their journey. The costs can be significant, and the American Legion has stepped in and championed their cause and assisted with numerous fundraisers.
Arlington’s American Legion Post 42 Sons of the American Legion hosted the fundraiser which raised $6,000. Combined with $2,000 Post 42 had already raised, $8,000 was donated to Honor Flight.
To assist with the fundraising efforts for the Honor Flights, all American Legion Posts will accept the donations on their behalf. Lake Preston American Legion Post 63 will host their Midwest Honor Flight fundraiser Sunday the 5th. They will serve lunch beginning at 11:30 a.m. until they run out. Lunch will be a Philly cheese steak, wings, chips and cheese dip. They will be serving ribs, baked beans, cheesy potatoes and a dessert from 5-7 p.m.
Governor Noem was the original guest speaker for the Arlington event. A necessary rescheduling caused a time conflict, and Noem bowed out, asking Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden to step in. Along with Lt. Gov. Rhoden, there were four other speakers.
“It is about helping fulfill a mission for veterans who sacrificed a great deal to protect our freedoms that we enjoy every day. We constantly need to be reminded that these men and women answered the call to serve. America has stood and still stands for freedom. No one will ever take that away. America would not be the shining beacon of freedom it is today, if it were not for our military.” said Lt. Gov. Rhoden
Lt. Gov. Rhoden’s family has a lengthy list of military service dating back to the American Revolution.
“I served in the National Guard; our motto is “Always Ready, Always There.” And while it may be specific to the Guard, the rule generally applies to anyone who served in the military. The passion for your country and for your brothers in arms doesn't fade.”
“Every time I visit one of these War Memorials, I am reminded of what all our Veterans sacrificed. It's events like this one tonight where families, loved ones, and neighbors gathered to ensure that our heroes’ stories are never forgotten,” shared Lt. Gov. Rhoden.
Lt. Gov. Rhoden talked about the partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, where they honor fallen heroes by dedicating bridges across the state of South Dakota.
Governor Noem and Rhoden strive every day to support our Veterans and promote them.
“The Governor and I mean it when we say we have your back,” Lt. Gov. Rhoden said. “So, on behalf of the Governor myself, I want to thank those veterans and active military heroes tonight. God bless you all. God bless the great State of South Dakota, and may God continue to watch over and protect our soldiers who are serving in harm's way on our behalf. Thank you.”
Representative Aylward is young, and it's exciting to see a younger generation involved in politics. Aylward admits that in his high school days, his only interests were football and girls. As he got older and more interested in politics, he was influenced by Pat Tillman, an Army Ranger, and Ron Paul who was a medic in the Air Force and is now a retired politician.
Aylward shared with the audience his work on a legislative bill known as Defend the Guard. This legislation would prohibit a state's National Guard units from being deployed into active combat without a formal declaration of war by Congress, as provided by the U.S. Constitution. This piece of legislation is being introduced throughout the United States.
Representative Aylward talked about Federalism, two levels of government that operate simultaneously. The federal government is to be focused on areas of war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce. State governments are concerned with life, liberty, properties of the people, internal order and improving prosperity of the cities.
Federalism is the principals our national government were founded on and are defined and reflected upon in the “Federal Papers.” During the course of our nation’s history, the idea that states trump the federal government, to what most believe now, is that the federal government trumps the states.
Defend the Guard legislation is asking legislators and the President of the United States to follow the provisions set forth by the United States Constitution. According to Aylward,
“All we are dealing with this bill, is telling the federal government to do things the correct way,” stated Aylward. “Many in this room took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I am asking politicians to do these things. So, a little different speech, but I think it is particularly important. Again, thank you. Thank you to everybody in this room. The legion service and our service members. Thank you.”
Sec. Whitlock discussed Midwest Honor Flight and the work the Board of Directors and executive staff have done over the years, thanking them for their time and efforts.
“I want to mention that the Midwest Honor Flight is also supporting not only these flights to Washington D.C., but they are partnering with Wreaths Across America,” said Sec. Whitlock. “A program that remembers our fallen veterans in cemeteries across the United States. They will spend December 18th placing wreaths on the graves of our veterans to ensure they are not forgotten during the holiday season. Wreaths Across America day is a unique opportunity to remember all of those that served whether in wartime or peacetime.”
Commander Wolkow thanked the members of the Arlington American Legion who made this event possible. He then shared his experiences on an Honor Flight.
Wolkow also shared the experiences of raising funds for the flights, and the challenges he shared with the South Dakota American Legion and all the Posts within the state.
“Everyone in the South Dakota American Legion Foundation who helped build this project, correlated it well with one of the American Legion’s four pillars, and that's the Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation,” said Wolkow. “Helping Midwest Honor Flight directly supports our Veterans and their families.”
“I recommend all veterans take the tour. It is a trip you will not forget. We need to make every effort to make sure all our deserving veterans have the opportunity to take that One Final Tour with Honor. Thank you all for coming out tonight and supporting Midwest Honor Flight and our Veterans. A special thank you to the Arlington American Legion family for sponsoring this fundraiser. Thank you.”
As president and director, Van Beek shared what the Midwest Honor Flight does. They arrange the flights and accept the applications from the veterans and guardians, who assist the veterans on their trip and around Washington D.C., so they see the memorials and make it to the appropriate locations at the right time.
They also handle donations at their web site: https://www.midwesthonorflight.org/
Every donation goes one hundred percent toward the flights and making this trip possible for all deserving veterans.
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