OLLI Veterans’ Day Event a HUGE Success!
By John Nash, OLLI E-News editor
Wow! What a terrific event was presented to honor our veterans on Veterans’ Day. More than 60 OLLI members and guests met in TA-1 on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 11, to enjoy an event that culminated in showing the documentary film, Honor Flight: One Last Mission.
For several months, Martha Powers, OLLI board member, has been organizing the event. Martha, whose parents were Marine Corps officers in WWII, said, “Hey! It’s Veterans Day! OLLI ought to do something to honor our veterans” and in true “Martha-form” began working on the event.
The program began with the Presentation of the Colors by the Fairfax County Police Ceremonial Honor Guard, with the national anthem sung by PFC
Kirk Coligan. Then OLLI member Michael McNamara, Colonel, Infantry, US Army (retired), read a poem he had written “in recognition of the veterans in our presence.” (The complete poem, “In Arlington,” can be read in the Poetry Corner of this issue.) After his reading, Mike recognized OLLI members who served in each branch of the military services — including two veterans of World War II.
“I was so delighted that my Reader’s Theater acting buddy, 95-year-old Army veteran Chester Myslicki, was there. And I was happily surprised to find Navy veteran Adrian Pelzner in our audience,” said Martha, who asked each WWII vet to speak briefly.
The main event was a screening of the documentary film, “Honor Flight: One Last Mission,” about a group of citizens in Wisconsin who raised funds to send the town’s WWII veterans to Washington, DC, to see the World War II Memorial created in their honor. The Honor Flight concept continues today, bringing veterans from across the country to our area to see the memorials that recognize and honor their service.
At the conclusion of the film, three OLLI members who are Honor Flight volunteers at Dulles – Toni and John Acton, and John Nash – explained the Honor Flight program and how they participate in welcoming veterans from all over the country.
“This is such a special program,” said Toni who, along with her husband John, has volunteered for several years with the Chicago Honor Flight coming into Dulles. She described the process and schedule that comes together each year to bring veterans through Dulles and Reagan airports and to the city. OLLI member and Honor Flight volunteer John Nash offered additional insights and stories about their experiences in welcoming Honor Flight veterans to our area.
OLLI invitations resulted in media coverage for the event. The Herndon public access channel interviewed several OLLI members and recorded the event. Bonnie Hobbs, a feature writer for the Connection newspapers, covered the entire event, including interviews with Army veterans Jim Dunphy and Bob Coffin about their military experiences. Bonnie’s reporting on the event resulted in an outstanding article as well as the front page photograph in the Nov 19-25 Fairfax Connection. You can read the article and see the pictures by going to http://connectionarchives.com/PDF/2015/111815/Fairfax.pdf.
Even as the day’s special events concluded, future plans were taking shape. “Would you like to come on an OLLI bus trip that greets Honor Flight veterans and then follows them to the World War II memorial?” Martha asked the audience. Many agreed that this would be a very special OLLI event that should become a reality.
As for Veterans Day at OLLI next year? “We’ll again do something special,” Martha said. “I promise.”
(photographs by John Nash, except Connection cover)
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