NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As the nation honors the heroes who’ve given their lives to protect the U.S. this Memorial Day Weekend, there’s a group making sure the greatest generation never forgets how much they are appreciated.
Honor Flight is a program that flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial in person.
The memorial did not open until 2004, 59 years after the war came to an end.
The group’s Long Island director Chris Cosich told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu on Sunday that since the program began, nearly 1,000 Long Island vets have been taken on an honor flight. But he said it’s up the families of the vets to make sure they take advantage of the program.
“Well-funded, well-organized but the World War II veterans don’t seem to know about us anymore,” Cosich told CBS 2’s Hsu. “We want to get them down there.”
Cosich said the building of the World War II Memorial came after the memorials for other 20th century wars and because of that, the number of vets is shrinking.
“No greater story as a collective testimony to the American spirit,” Cosich said. “We need to do this.”
Cosich said the aging World War II veterans are dying at a rate of 800 per day, creating a sense of urgency to give those who served the honor they deserve at their memorial.
“They gave me the 20th century I grew up in,” Cosich told Hsu.
World War II veteran Jim Higgins took his Honor Flight nearly a year ago.
“It was a very humbling thing,” Higgins told Hsu.
He traveled to D.C. with his three brothers, who are all World War II veterans.
“The people greeted us so nice and it was so humbling that they still remembered us and it was a long, long time since we were in the service,” Higgins told Hsu. “People greeted us everywhere we went.”
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