We hear the roar of engines. Not jets. Propeller planes. Jer and I run to our bedroom window just in time to see an inspiring sight… WWII trainer planes flying in formation over the San Fernando Valley. Jer and I clap and cheer like kids.
This scenario has been enacted every Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Veteran’s Day, as well as a few other holidays, since we’ve lived in our Studio City home. Occasionally we’ve heard the roar and run to see the pilots on a practice flight. A few years ago, Jer did some research and discovered the planes belonged to a nonprofit organization known as the Condor Squadron. Their stirring mission is “To Honor Military Aviation through Flight, Exhibition, and Remembrance.” The squadron describes itself as “a group of aviation enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the memory of those who have served our country over the years. One of our main activities is memorial flights in restored North American Aviation AT-6/SNJ trainers originally flown during World War II.”
This year, the Condor Squadron Veteran’s Day flight we’re eagerly awaiting will be made even more meaningful. We just returned from a visit to New Orleans, where we spent hours and a lot of tears exploring the exhibits in the National World War 2 Museum. Hours that only skimmed the surface of this remarkable museum.
We thought of Jer’s dad in the exhibit dedicated to the tropical hell that was the Pacific theatre. He served there in the Army and returned home with a case of malaria that occasionally reared its head throughout his life. My dad never got to serve in the war. He tried enlisting in every branch but was declared ineligible for physical reasons. One military doctor told him, “I’m doing you a favor.” He wasn’t. Dad would have gladly given his life for his country.
Thanks to Jer’s dad’s military service, we get our insurance through USAA, a company dedicated to providing financial services to the military and their families. The other day we received an email from the company’s CEO. He asked that on Veteran’s Day, USAA members draw a V on their hand, along with the initials of veterans they’d like to honor, then share the image on social media with the hashtag #HonorThroughAction.
My V honors Jer’s dad, my Uncle Henry, and the childhood next door neighbor I wrote about in my last post, Harry Kimbriel. But today, when those planes soar over the Valley in their beautiful homage, I’ll be thinking of all vets. My palm isn’t big enough to show my gratitude to everyone who serves or has served. Bless every single one of them.
Readers, is there a special remembrance in your town? Do you honor anyone specifically on Veteran’s Day?