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Pleasant Grove students have ‘honor’ of saluting veterans

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By Stephen Thomas

 PLEASANT GROVE - Recently the Honor Flight Program celebrated its 10th anniversary of honoring veterans by flying them to Washington, DC, to visit memorials and be celebrated by others for their services.

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Students from Pleasant Grove Elementary were able to participate in the anniversary, creating thank you cards and letters for the participating veterans.

About 200 letters and notes were created by PGES students for the anniversary flight, according to Honor Flight volunteer Shila Ringo, who works at PNC Bank in Shepherdsville.

“I was completely overwhelmed by the response,” Ringo said.

According to Ringo, the special 10th anniversary flight included the letters from the students as an extra surprise for the veterans. She hoped to have a Bullitt County school get involved with the idea.

“(Ringo) contacted me about the Honor Flight letters and I agreed instantly to have my own classroom participate,” said PGES first grade teacher Wendy Stansbury. “I was very excited to have my class involved in such a worthy outreach endeavor.”

Stansbury got permission from principal Melissa Whicker, then proceeded to provide templates for other teachers to implement.

“Many of the teachers were going to tie the project into previous lessons about veterans and the Memorial Day holiday,” she said.

Part of the lesson learned, according to Stansbury, was current students, who have grown up with technologies, learning about how soldiers were many miles away from home, with little to no contact with their families and friends.

“Mail call was so important to these men and women because it was their only connection to home,” she said. “We discussed how writing notes and letters to send to these special veterans would be so appreciated.

Stansbury said it was “eye-opening” for her students to meet with veterans during Memorial Day programs, some who were over 90 years old.

Honor Flight was established to honor World War II veterans by flying them for free to Washington, visiting memorials dedicated the services and sacrifices of themselves and their fellow soldiers.

Though the program focuses on, and gives primary focus to, World War II veterans, Honor Flight now also includes Korean War and Vietnam War veterans.

Ringo said the 10th anniversary trip was a little more special, centering around the anniversary of the D-Day invasion that took place in 1944. She said veterans and their guardians would spend the night in Washington, also visiting Arlington National Cemetery and the Smithsonian Institute’s Air & Space Museum.

For more information on the Honor Flight Program, or to make a donation, visit www.honorflight.org.