So, the song goes, ” Tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree. It’s been three long years do you still want me?” Recorded in 1973 by the musical group Tony Orlando and Dawn. Many people thought the song was about a man returning home from prison, wondering if his sweetheart had waited for him. That is incorrect. It is written on the premise of a man returning home from the war. He has written a letter to his sweetheart, inquiring if she’d wait for his return. This song has been the inspiration for the Old Glory Honor Yellow Ribbon Flight Program for the Veterans of the Vietnam War. What is the Old Glory Honor Flight? The Old Glory Honor Flight or Yellow Ribbon Flight is the opportunity for Veterans from WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Wars to go to our Nation’s Capital to view the memorials erected in their honor. The trip is an experience of a lifetime. Veterans from the Korean and the Vietnam war never received the huge Welcome Home For these Veterans; there was no ticker-tape parade or a Hero’s Welcome Home. The Honor Flight and the Yellow Ribbon Flights is a way for family, friends, and the community to give these service people the Welcome Home that denied them when they first came home more than 50 years ago.
Once the plane lands in Washington DC. The Veterans, accompanied by their “Guardians,” are greeted by crowds of people trying to shake the hands of Veterans, thanking them for their service. Once out of the airport, the Veterans are off to visit the memorials erected in their honor.
The memorials that are visited
- World War I memorial
- World War II memorial
- Korean War Memorial
- Vietnam Wall
- Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
- Lincoln Memorial
- The Washington Memorial
After a day full of excitement and gratitude, there is still another surprise that awaits the Veterans. The highlight of any service person overseas is receiving mail and care packages from home.
As the flight returns home, the announcement “MAIL CALL” is made. Each Veteran receives a large envelope filled with letters from family, friends, and even strangers thanking them for their service.
Whether landing at Ronald Reagan International Airport or our own Outagamie Airport crowds gather to welcome these Veterans home, for some, it’s the first time. Whether the Veteran is from the eras of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and eventually, Iraqi and Afghanistan, the Honor Flight Program, is an experience of a lifetime.