Honor Flight fundraising competition hopes to instill values in students

The Honor Flight Logo, taken from the organisations official website. Used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

The Honor Flight Logo, taken from the organisation’s official website. Used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Ashleigh Atasoy

The Honor Flight Logo, taken from the organisation's official website. Used under the Fair Use Doctrine.
The Honor Flight Logo, from the organisation’s official website. Used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

The Second Annual Honor Flight Fundraising competition has been going for a week now in Columbia Public Schools. Competing against the Jefferson City Public School district, RBHS aims to  to raise the most money for Honor Flight, a non-profit that gives World War II veterans the opportunity to see their war memorial in Washington, D.C.

“Columbia Public Schools accepted the challenge of Jeff City Public Schools to raise money for Honor Flight,” Activities Director David Bones said. “The district has put out several suggestions on how … faculty [can] raise money for our effort.”

Originating in Springfield, Ohio, the first Honor Flight took place in May 2005 and has since expanded across the country. The group flies veterans, at no cost to the former soldiers, to see their memorial.

According to www.honorflight.org, an average of 640 WWII veterans die every day in the United States, so the organization so the organization serves to fly as many WWII as possible before time runs out. Beginning in 2011, CPS and JCPS met and tinkered with the idea of supporting veterans.

“The superintendents from Columbia and Jefferson City talk often.  Based on a conversation about the importance of remembering veterans and their own personal connections to WWII vets, the pair decided on a friendly challenge to help raise funds to support this worthy cause,” Community Relations Director for CPS Michelle Baumstark said. “We had no idea how big or small it would be at the time.  But were amazed at how much we raised in just one month and have kept it going each year since.”

Since then, the two districts have raised more than $30,000 for the organization and plan to continue to raise even more funds. Despite the success of the fundraising event, CPS isn’t the first group within the district to raise money for the cause. Prior to the district wide fundraising efforts, Young Republicans began raising money for the organization. Advertising the cause as meetings, assemblies and videos the club has donated the funds directly to the Honor Flight office in Columbia. YR president Adam Burnam believes the non-profit is a great opportunity to honor WWII veterans, but also a way for veterans to decompress emotions that have been held for over 50 years.

“I think what makes honor flight most important is the fact that it really is a small contribution from us, and it can mean the world to a veteran,” Burnam said. “I know my grandpa just went on honor flight last year and it made all the difference to him, and it really …  consoled him on a lot of things that he might have even been repressing up to, you know, for many years after the war, so it really is a really good program.”

Most importantly, CPS and RBHS hope to honor veterans for the sacrifices they made in WWII. By aiding in flying out former soldiers, the district hopes to teach students the importance of veterans and the importance of saying thanks.

“Honor flight is a way to provide something to WWII veterans that shows them how much we value the sacrifices that they made for our country,” Baumstark said. “It is a small way to say thank you.  Honoring and showing respect for our veterans is a value that we instill in our students and teaches them about sacrifice and doing something for others.  This fundraiser is something that helps us teach students this concept. The fact that something that started with a simple goal to raise 50 cents per student and turned into a campaign that has raised more than $30,000 is incredible.”

By Ashleigh Atasoy

Do you know any veterans? What gifts do you believe they have given the country?