I had the privilege, and I use that word quite literally, of attending the Field of Honor event at Miller Park on Saturday. A record breaking crowd attended...no really...Guiness was on hand and confirmed that we set the world record for a feature length movie premier. The previous record was 27, 022 people. Over 28,400 were in attendance on Saturday. That was just icing on the cake.
Friends, I'm not sure I have words to describe this event. When I read about it or try to tell people about it, I can't help but get choked up. MANY tears were shed. We were there to see the world premier of the movie Honor Flight and more importantly, to honor our World War II veterans. The movie is a documentary about how the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight came to be. In this process, two WWII veterans became key players. Their stories, along with a few others, are highlighted in this film. And what stories they have to tell.
Every Day is a Bonus. This phrase was coined by PFC Joe Demler a/k/a the Human Skeleton, pictured above, who was captured by enemy forces during the Battle of the Bulge. I won't be so presumptuous as to tell his story, but suffice it to say that he was in attendance at Miller Park for the event to honor his service. I thank you sir.
And then there was Harvey Kurz. A loveable, prolific flirt who nonetheless is madly in love with his wife, this brave man fought at Iwo Jima. And yet he does not think of himself as a hero. In his words, the ones who didn't come back are heroes. Word to Harvey - YOU are a hero.
There were several others profiled in the film. You can't help but fall in love with these men. In their eyes, their country called them up, they did their duty, and then returned home to resume their lives. Nothing more, nothing less. Their humility is astounding. They really do NOT understand our gratitude for guaranteeing every one of us...you, me, our parents, our children, our grandchildren, and on and on and on - the freedoms that we take for granted in this beautiful country. It was their sacrifice that allowed us to live in freedom. They truly are the greatest generation.
My friends - I've never experienced anything like the atmosphere that enveloped Miller Park on Saturday. When the Color Guard came out, there were 28,000+ in the stadium and yet you could have heard a pin drop. It was an atmosphere of complete and total awe and respect.
I suppose I could go on and on about the experience, but unless you were there, you really won't get it. I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of those who made this event possible. I urge all of you to see the move Honor Flight...not only will you not be disappointed, I dare say you won't be the same after. I seriously doubt there was a dry eye in the stadium...before, during or after the movie.
And most of all, a heartfelt thank you to the WWII vets, and those who have served and continue to serve this great country. There are no words to express my gratitude to you. You are ALL heroes.