What a wonderful weekend, (I hope you all noticed I did not say ordeal). We have a ton of members that put in a tremendous amount of work to pull off this B-17 Salute to Veterans weekend. Richard and I thank you and salute you all. Was it worth it? All you had to do was see the smiles and tears of gratitude from the folks that got to fly as they came off the plane. The emotions, the stories, the patriotism,- there were times when there was no way I could even speak. We provided a great service to our WW II vets, the airport, the EAA, and the surrounding towns. Selflessness in a cause greater than ourselves is always a positive growth experience and the opportunity presented itself to us this weekend.
By Saturday our sales had already exceeded the entire Atlanta, GA tour stop. The entire B-17 crew was extremely happy and grateful for the effort we put in. You noticed they all jumped into the 17 to do the stadium fly-by. That was probably a first for this EAA program. I simply cannot find the words to adequately commend and thank all of you who participated. And I will never remember everyone that was there. But I have to try: Lenny flew in from Mass., just to do his part. Tim had the idea for the fly-by and the three amigos- Bruce, Bob, and Barratt made it happen along with phone calls from Dick. I would ask all our membership to personally thank Bruce for all the incredible effort he put forward to do the paperwork, cut through the red tape, and make it happen. If you believe, they will come.
Our cause was just and the weather cooperated. Lots of folks put in long hours. Russ, Nate, Bill, Melinda, Jim, Richard, Aga, Peggy, Ruth, Jessica, Tim and my other brother Tim, Barratt, the Ryles, Ralph, Doug, Bill Harrington and his white rocket, Pete, Ed Yess, Jim Stark, Bob Kelly, John Steere, Mike Combs, Dick, Ron, Bob, Bill-- even Willis braved the cold. We also had a host of non- member volunteers. However if we are to remember this 2010 B-17 event we must first think of Jack and Terry Eads. The WW II Vet reception and the Field of Honor was totally their idea and they worked unbelievably to make both a fabulous success. I thank you and would encourage all our members to do the same over the next few weeks. Few people kept from crying during the flag presentations. Did you see the lone American flag at half mast? One of our flag folders and presenters lost his best friend in Afghanistan the night before. Chapter 650 gave this flag in honor and appreciation for a fallen hero. Never before has there been a country where liberty is considered such a precious gift that it must be preserved at all costs. Never before have so many owed so much to their fellow citizens who answered the call. The spirit of this presenter was one of the most uplifting things I have witnessed in years. He had just lost his best friend, a comrade he served with. Yet except for a brief, emotional time out from public view, he stood at attention, did his duty, and made his entire country proud. Where do we come up with such quality individuals?
As I sit here typing this, the 17 has now landed in KY, my body is exhausted, and my brain is jelly. But I am totally enthused. TOTALLY SATISFIED. WE DID IT.
Nothing in this physical world is ever perfect, but after going through a cooperative group experience like this, one cannot help but notice how fine it feels to be a human being, an American, and a grateful child of God. Thank you for this.
Your Not Yet Impeached, but Retiring President,