Yet many of these very men and women who fought to assure that America lives in freedom have never seen the national shrines that have been built in their honor.
Two Carter Countians – Harold Lingerfelt and Harley Carden – recently traveled to Washington, D.C., with HonorAir Flight of Knoxville to see the beauty and grandeur of the nation’s capital. Lingerfelt is a World War II veteran, having served with the U.S. Navy, and Carden served with the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict.
Both agreed it was the “trip of a lifetime.”
Although they were wowed by the sights and sounds of Washington, the most impressive part of the day was the reception they received at McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville when they returned from Washington.
“There must have been 2,000 to 3,000 people there to greet us, shake our hand, and tell us they appreciated our service,” Lingerfelt said. “The Knoxville Central High School Band was present and played the anthem of each branch of military service. It was amazing.”
“I have never witnessed nor been a part of anything like that. They made us feel like stars,” he shared.
Lingerfelt placed his application for the flight about a year ago and Carden not quite a year ago. The two drove to Knoxville and stayed overnight at the Crown Plaza Hotel in downtown Knoxville, where they were feted at a dinner on Tuesday evening before the flight to Washington Wednesday morning. “Everything was gratis,” Lingerfelt said.
They were joined in Knoxville by 128 other veterans chosen for the flight – 68 World War II veterans and 60 Korean veterans. Each group of four had an escort, who accompanied the veterans every step of the way. “Many of the veterans were in their 80s and 90s and required some assistance. Our every need was taken care of,” Lingerfelt said.