Voyage of Valor 2019
In partnership with GHC Housing Partners, Wish of a Lifetime sent 14 veterans from seven different states to Washington D.C. for the very first time to see the memorials that were erected in their honor. From the monuments, to the U.S. Capitol where the group met with congressmen, to the final dinner overlooking the city at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, this group of veterans had a well-deserved experience they will never forget!
Ernest, 70, was drafted by the Army shortly following his high school graduation. He spent nearly three years in the Air Force and obtained the rank of Airman First Class. He also served on active duty in Vietnam for a year. Similar to other combat veterans, Ernest considered himself lucky just to come home in one piece. His welcome back to civilian life, like many Vietnam veterans’, wasn’t exactly an open-armed, hero’s welcome. Men like Ernest did what they had to do, and unfortunately returned home only to be unappreciated and ignored, something Ernest has struggled with ever since he was discharged.
While Ernest was able to go to the Vietnam Wall and etch the names of the friends he lost, what might have had the greatest impact on Ernest came from a teenage girl whom he had never met. While standing at the Tomb of the Unknown, Ernest was approached by a student on a field trip who gave him a handwritten letter. The letter brought tears to Ernest’s eyes and quickly became the highlight of his trip.
The student’s touching letter is included below.
I am visiting D.C. for a school trip. I wanted to start off by saying thank you for your service. I understand that you are not acknowledged often, and certainly not enough for your acts of bravery and strength, so I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you to stay proud of your achievements. No matter the battle you fought, you deserve endless respect and appreciation. You are the reason I am fortunate to have the opportunities and freedom that I am privileged to have today. You are the reason citizens feel safe while living in this country. Because of your sacrifices this country is safe. When I was younger war was always a frightening subject. My parents told me that there were brave, strong men and women fighting for our safety and freedom. When I noticed you today, I recognized a brave and strong warrior. My little brother has, for as long as I could remember, been fascinated by the military, and although it is nerve-wracking for my mother, it makes me proud knowing that one day my brother will save lives, just like you. Thanks again for your service and remember to keep your head high and be confident and proud of yourself and all of your outstanding bravery. The next time you’re having a bad day remind yourself of how much you have helped this country.