The Gary Sinise Foundation’s 16th Soaring Valor trip brought together 41 World War II veterans and 40 students from Archbishop McNicholas High School in the Cincinnati, Ohio area for a trip to New Orleans to visit the WWII museum. The three-day trip provided an opportunity for veterans to share their first-hand accounts of the war with a new generation. To ensure that these stories are shared with as wide an audience as possible, each of the 41 veterans individual accounts was captured by a historian. We believe the “Greatest Generation’s” stories are invaluable, and this most recent Soaring Valor helped further preserve their place in our nation’s history.
The veterans were given a hero’s welcome upon arrival at their departure airport (CVG), complete with a presentation of colors, singing of the national anthem, and remarks from guest speakers before boarding their flight generously provided by American Airlines. Upon arrival in New Orleans, the veterans were provided with a police escort to their hotel (the Sheraton New Orleans), where the veterans’ rooms were generously donated.
At a dinner celebrating our heroes’ patriotism and sacrifice, veterans, students, and volunteers came together for an evening of fun and bonding. They were joined by a special guest, WWII veteran and New Orleans native, Lawrence Brooks, who recently celebrated his 109th birthday.
The next morning, attendees had another police escort to The National WWII Museum, where staff warmly welcomed them to the museum that honors the generation that sacrificed so much to secure our freedom. Veterans explored the museum with their guardians and students, sharing first-hand stories of their experiences in the war. The Victory Belles performed for the group at lunch, which included bringing one of the veterans on stage for some impromptu dancing.
The following day the veterans returned home to Cincinnati. On their flight, they were treated to “mail call” where each veteran was given special personalized letters from their students and other loved ones, thanking them for the service. Students who accompanied the veterans were moved by their time with these heroes--especially considering that many of them are around the same age these brave men were when fighting overseas.
"Soaring Valor gave me a sense of pride knowing how much people appreciate the contribution I made to my country...it made the sunset of my life a complete success."
-Bernard Martin, WWII Veteran, Navy