Departing last Friday afternoon and returning Saturday evening, the second all women's Honor Flight Austin took 42 World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans from across Texas to Washington D.C. to visit memorials that have been built in their honor.
This trip marked Honor Flight's 54th flight and third one for this fall. Honor Flight Austin is a nonprofit organization created to honor veterans by taking them to visit and reflect at their war memorials. The veterans visited Vietnam Women's Memorial on the National Mall and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
American Heritage Girl (AHG) Savannah Cantor was present at the departure ceremony to give each veteran a hand drawn and commissioned pin before their flight. Cantor, a Patriot rank in AHG, spent this year going to different events to raise awareness and collecting donations for the memorabilia for the all-women flight with her Honor Flight pins. She pinned the women veterans to complete her Dolley Madison project, which signifies a level up in rank.
“I really liked giving all the veterans my pin and telling them how appreciative I am for their service,” she said. “They were extremely kind and asked a lot of questions about my project. Some were surprised that I would do this for them.”
The fifteen-year old was able to raise $2,500 for Honor Flight along with awareness for the organization. Cantor said she was able to thank women veterans for their service and sacrifice.
“I was able to hear stories of women veterans and experience what an incredible organization Honor Flight Austin is from a veteran’s perspective,” added Cantor. “I was also able to tell a lot of veterans about American Heritage Girls since many of them had granddaughters that were looking for scouting options. Mostly I was able to say thank you in a personal way.”
Cantor said veterans have always held a special place in her heart and that thanking veterans every day goes a long way.
“This event meant a lot of things to me,” said Cantor. “America is the greatest nation in the world, and it honestly wouldn't be without the service of the men and women who fought in those wars. Every day my generation forgets that their liberty and privileges are built on those who bravely died fighting in those wars. Too many times I see them completely disrespecting veterans, having little knowledge of how the privilege of free speech was given to them and protected for them by those same veterans. For someone like me to witness that not only made me heart-broken, but also angry. With this project, I wanted to prove to those veterans that the people of American have not forgotten their sacrifices.”
Throughout her entire project, Cantor had one direct message she wanted to share: "Your acts of valor are not forgotten." She said she wanted veterans to know her appreciation for what they’ve given in hard times.
“My generation has no idea how much their life was built on the backs of the veterans who fought in those wars,” she said. “Even I, who have talked with so many of them, will never be able to understand what they went through to protect their country fully. I hope those that see someone wearing an honor flight pin may ask the veteran about their awesome program. With my project, I am not trying to ask people to understand what they went through, but to thank them and remember what they went through. I hope through my different activities I have helped in Honor Flight awareness and have thanked the veterans.”
Cantor said that now that her Dolley Madison (the name of my leveling up project) is completed, she can now move on to her Stars and Stripes project. Stars and Stripes is the American Heritage Girls equivalent to an Eagle for the Boy Scouts.
“Though I am still not sure what I will do for that project, I will most likely continue my mission of making veterans more recognized for their service,” Cantor said. “In 2019 there are roughly six more Honor Flights in which I will be leading a flag ceremony for some, if not all of them.”