[SeMissourian.com] Fair ~ 42°F  
River stage: 15.68 ft. Rising
Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014

Community honors World War II veterans with send-off ceremony at Jackson High School

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The musical trio Replica performs in front World War II veterans Friday, April 23, 2010. Jackson High School had a sendoff celebration for the thirty veterans departing for Washington D.C. as part of the Honor Tour Friday afternoon.
(Laura Simon)
By Brian Blackwell

Southeast Missourian

Ever since a national memorial was built in Washington, D.C., to honor those who served their country during World War II, Frank Leet of Jackson has longed for the day when he would visit the site.

Leet's wish is being granted this weekend as he and 29 other veterans visit the National World War II Memorial. The 30 veterans who are part of the Honor Tour -- an all-expense-paid, three-day trip to see the memorial and other sights in the nation's capital -- were honored during a special send-off Friday morning at Jackson High School.

"This has been a long time coming," Leet said before the ceremony. "We'll have great experiences to share.

"Sometimes there will be laughter," he said. "And sometimes it will be tears."

From the time the bus carrying the veterans exited off Interstate 55 at Center Junction to when it made its way to the high school parking lot, the event was marked with its share of pageantry.

People lined East Jackson Boulevard, some waving American flags, as a motorcade from military organizations and law enforcement agencies escorted the bus that had made stops in Poplar Bluff, Mo., Dexter, Mo., and Sikeston, Mo., earlier in the day. Awaiting those already on board the bus were six veterans from Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

Once inside the event center each veteran was escorted by female students through a flag-lined hallway into the main auditorium, where the ceremony was held.

A crowd of nearly 2,000 that gathered inside greeted each veteran who entered the floor with a nearly five-minute standing ovation and thunderous applause. The veterans returned their gratitude with a thumbs-up sign or waving of their caps to the students, family members, other veterans and members of the community present.

The 45-minute program included bagpipes, recognition of the veterans, World War II music by the group Replica, remarks by community leaders and presentation of the Honor Tour caps.

In his remarks, Honor Tour founder Rob Callahan of Poplar Bluff thanked family members, veterans and those in the community who donated to the Honor Tour.

"We gather here today in freedom because of the brave," Callahan said. "When you're out and about and you see a member in uniform or you see somebody wearing a military shirt or hat, take the time to stop and thank them.

"We have a gentleman in our group here today with us that's waited over 60 years to hear the words that he first heard today and that was 'thank you,'" he said. "And that's two things most that our veterans would like to hear from people is 'thank you' and that 'I'm praying for you.'"

Jackson Mayor Barbara Lohr later extended the veterans a welcome to Jackson.

"There is no way that we could ever repay the debt we owe you for the sacrifices you made for us and to this whole nation during World War II," Lohr said. "And so for everybody in this room, let me very humbly and sincerely say, 'Thank you, World War II vets. We are free because you were brave.'"

After the program, the veterans posed for a group photo and made their way onto the bus, destined for Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The veterans are scheduled to return today to Southeast Missouri.

"You can't put words to what this means to our veterans," said Tonya Landewee, who helped coordinate the Honor Tour. "It's makes you feel proud to stand here and give our support to them."



Pertinent addresses:

315 South Missouri St., Jackson, MO

Poplar Bluff, MO

Dexter, MO

Sikeston, MO

Washington, D.C.

Fact Check
See inaccurate information in this story?

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on semissourian.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Does anyone know how a veteran can sign up to do one of these trips?

-- Posted by Jim P on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 2:06 PM

You could probably contact Rob Callahan. He has a number where you can call to make donations, and I'm sure you could find out from there how to sign up. 573.718.1076

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 2:22 PM

This was a very moving ceremony! I am so glad we got to participate! Thank you veterans for your willingness to make the greatest sacrifice for our wonderful country. God bless you!

-- Posted by chocolatte on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 3:23 PM

http://www.honorflight.org/ is the national website. From there you can navigate around based on your location.

-- Posted by hogan 123 on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 9:06 PM

Great to hear something good in our community. Great job Boy Scouts with the Flag Ceremony. It was awsome!!

-- Posted by Jackson2011 on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 5:11 PM

Mr. Dwight Barker, front row second from the left light blue shirt is ninety three years old and has been talking about this trip for weeks!!! Can't wait until he gets back to hear all his stories.

-- Posted by whathappenedhere on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 7:32 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration. If you already have an account on seMissourian.com or semoball.com, enter your username and password below. Otherwise, click here to register.


Password:  (Forgot your password?)

Your comments:
Please be respectful of others and try to stay on topic.

Map of pertinent addresses
Related links
Related subjects