Honoring America’s Veterans
Real people, real experiences
For many young people, the faces of World War II and the Korean War are better known through celebrity actors in big-budget films than as real, flesh-and-blood heroes.
Annie Nardone, an Amway Independent Business Owner and home-school mom, reminds us that what we see on the big screen isn’t just a movie. “There are real men and women who were there and are still living today,” she says. “They deserve our attention, support, and admiration.”
One organization, the Honor Flight Network®, feels the same as Annie. The group provides veterans with free transportation from their hometowns to visit their war memorials in Washington, D.C. – an important trip that many of them otherwise wouldn’t be able to make. At these memorials, some veterans share stories about their experiences, while others are so touched that they can’t find words.
Annie has become a walking, talking billboard for Honor Flight Network®. As a home schooling ambassador, she organizes volunteer opportunities with her home schooling group, her community, and her fellow IBOs to ensure that veterans get the recognition they deserve.
Deserving men and women
“There are many ways we volunteer,” says Annie. “We make banners and cards, greet and cheer at the airport when the veterans arrive and depart, and we give hugs and kisses – sometimes even a dance – when the veterans come to their memorial. There is nothing like hugging someone so instrumental in our history.”
Annie knows that after one experience at the memorials, where chartered buses of veterans arrive flanked by motorcyclists who offer respectful protection, people get hooked. “It chokes me up every time!” she says. “Everyone is at the memorial for a common goal – to show honor to the visiting veterans for what they’ve done.”
Joining in these gatherings helps Annie keep history real for her own children and others whom she teaches. “I want this generation to never forget what another generation of servicemen and -women did through their honor, duty, loyalty, hard work, dedication, and sacrifice,” she says.
Let them not be forgotten
Annie’s daughter Isobel and son Lex love greeting these heroes. The veterans are honored, and surprised, to see the kids there. Annie explains, “My kids walk right up and say, ‘Thank you for your service to our country.’ Often, the response back is, ‘Thanks for coming. We didn’t think anyone would remember us.’”
Annie says every Honor Flight Network® event has its own stories and veterans who are eager to share them. “Isobel was particularly taken by a man who flew planes over Germany, dropping parachuted boxes full of candy to the German children,” Annie says. “I was inspired by a very tiny woman who told me that she delivered mail to front lines. We were awed by a veteran who was a liberator of the Dachau concentration camp. And we cheered for a veteran who shared his role in smuggling the prized Lipizzaner stallions away from Nazi bombing to keep the historic breed alive.”
Annie encourages others to get involved and give back to these amazing people who have done so much. “According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, approximately 640 veterans die each day,” Annie says. “Let’s work together to get them to their memorials before a precious, living part of our history is lost forever.”