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Rochester welcomed veterans with open arms

by By Courtney Deeren - Copy Editor
Tue, Sep 11th 2018 04:00 pm
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Sunday, Sept. 9 was the homecoming banquet for honor flight 61. The flight, which was returning from Washington DC, contained 46 veterans and their guardians. The airport was completely packed with friends, families, and volunteers from all over to celebrate the return of these vets. 

Volunteers included students from neighboring high schools and elementary schools, those who signed up through the honor flight program, a band, even SUNY Brockport sent students to help out. Many of the Brockport volunteers were part of the Army ROTC program, Freedom Eagles, or military science students.

 Between both the upper and lower floors of the greater Rochester international airport there had to have been hundreds of people lining the main aisle. When asked about the program one volunteer said “it’s really all about the vets.”

 Truthfully, everything was designed with them in mind. This event was seen as a way to give these service members the welcome home they never got. Many of the veterans were from the Vietnam Era and were rejected or harassed at their first homecoming. If it was a warm welcome home the organization wanted to give, it was nothing short of that. 

Those along the sides of the walkway clapped and cheered as the veteran’s walked or, in some instances, were pushed in wheelchairs down the line. People came forward to shake the hands of those men and women to welcome them home and thank them for their service.

 The flight was set to land at 12:30 p.m. and people were already lining up an hour prior to that. Excitement filled the air as the band, Prime Time Brass, began to play. They lead the way, letting everyone know to pay attention to what would follow. Once the veterans made their way down the length of the upper level, they descended to the lower level, finding even more loved ones and volunteers. They were greeted with welcome home signs made by students and families.

 At the end of the line on the lower level each veteran was given a lap robe that corresponded with their branch of service. Lap robe was an idea conceived by Nancy Van Apledoorn, the wife of a Veteran marine. These quilted blankets are just big enough to drape over the lap, but they contain a big message. If you know how to sew and are interested in volunteering for lap robes you can find more information on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LapRobesForVeterans/

 After receiving their blankets they are ushered into a room where a welcome ceremony is held, which includes things like saying the pledge of allegiance and listening to the keynote speaker deliver. To see this event is an incredible experience, especially for those who have veterans in their family. 

If you want more information about volunteering email serve@brockport.edu or visit the honor flight website https://honorflightrochester.org/. If you know a veteran who is interested in attending one of these flights, forms can be found on the website. 



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