Saturday, May 19 is Armed Forces Day, set aside to honor men and women who are serving in the military. Locally, the day is being marked with a fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Ephrata American Legion and Auxiliary, located at 276 Eighth Ave. NW in Ephrata to help veterans take the Honor Flight to Washington, DC. The trip is an important one because it enables veterans to visit memorials erected for their service. Veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War are eligible for the Honor Flight.
The Legion’s Nacho/Taco Feed and Dessert Auction was first started by 18-year-old Justin Pederson, who started raising funds for the Honor Flight when he was 9 years old. Pederson is about to go to college. The Legion decided to continue the event this year and we’re so glad that they did. We’re sure the fundraiser will help veterans and educate many generations of residents about the flight.
The event is an emotional ones for veterans, who are often thanked by strangers at the Capitol and when they change planes on the way to and from Washington, DC, according to a 2012 Columbia Basin Herald article about local Honor Flight veterans.
“Every airport we go through, when they know we’re coming they’re there clapping and tears are rolling – I think it’s a lot more than the veterans expect to get,” Inland Northwest Honor Flight Director Tony Lamanna said. “We also make a real big deal out of the return trip because a lot of them didn’t get that welcome home. People see the Times Square kiss and think that’s what it was like, but the majority of veterans just came home to an empty bus or train station and not a whole lot of fanfare,”
Ephrata will be a busy place Saturday, with the Honor Flight fundraiser and an American Legion family information table by the Grant County Courthouse from noon to 2 p.m. During that time, the Grant County Autism Society will be holding an Autism Awareness Walk to educate people on symptoms and treatment. This is another great event to consider attending.
There are many great causes to support Saturday. We recommend keeping veterans in mind as you make your weekend plans and attend the taco/nacho feed to support the Honor Flight. Attending the fundraiser is a ‘win-win’ because there are plans to have local veterans share their experiences and an Honor Flight video will be shown. The educational aspect and hearing first-hand accounts from veterans make the event meaningful. The least we can do is help bring the veterans to Washington, D.C.
— Editorial Board