Buffalo Bills defnsive end Manny Lawson and running back Fred Jackson will head to Washington, D.C., on May 30 as part of Honor Flight Buffalo's sixth year of flying World War II veterans to the nation's capital.
Through the generosity of the community, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, the Buffalo Sabres Foundation and Patrick Kaleta's HITS Foundation, Honor Flight Buffalo has secured a Southwest charter for the round trip. To date, the flights have escorted 26 World War II Veterans per trip.
"I've never been a part of such a prestigious trip that not only recognize patrons for their actions, but will also be another way for me to show my appreciation," Lawson said.
Memorial Day is a holiday that resonates with Lawson on a personal level. His father, Donald, was in the Air Force. "It's a day to be thankful for being a part of such a great nation from which men and women choose to protect this country," Lawson said.
"For the lives lost and the time spent serving, we are fortunate to be able to be free to enjoy our lives as we see fit. So I am very thankful that my father was/is honored on this day for his services in the Air Force.
The grant to Honor Flight Buffalo, given by the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation in the summer of 2014, will help provide these men and women with the opportunity to visit the WWII Memorial that was built in their honor.
Lawson wants people to know that Memorial Day is more than just a day off of work/school.
"The reason for such luxuries is because of the men and women who fought for this country that we have chosen to protect and serve and bestow not only everyday happiness and joy but also safety and freedom," Lawson said.
The World War II Memorial was dedicated in 2004 – nearly six decades after the war ended. Honor Flight Buffalo's mission is to fly WWII veterans free of charge to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their sacrifices.
More than 16 million Americans served in World War II from 1941 to 1945. Statistics indicate there are only 1.2 million left. Through the generosity and support of the Buffalo community, Honor Flight Buffalo has successfully escorted a total of 418 World War II Veterans since its inception.
It encourages everyone to come out to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport on May 30 to welcome these heroes home. Details will be posted on their website at www.honorflightbuffalo.org.