Judge Memorial holds "Honor Flight" Assembly

Judge Memorial Catholic High School held a school-wide assembly on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, featuring the Honor Flight Network. As described by the organization, their mission is "our way of paying a small tribute to those who gave so much - a memorable, safe, and rewarding Tour of Honor." Honor Flight Network transports our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at the memorials built in their honor. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.
 
The assembly featured prayers for our nation's veterans, soldiers, military and their families, and for peace in our world. Those gathered heard from veterans Vardell Reese and Ron Hill, who shared their thoughts on their own service and the importance of honoring and thanking our nation’s veterans. Members of the school community were then privileged to view a shortened video of a Midwest community joining together to honor World War II veterans one last time as they sent a group off on a recent Honor Flight.
 
“I thought the video was very meaningful for students my age, and really opened our eyes,” said Miles Eyre, a senior at Judge Memorial. “While we have read about it and studied it, we really have no idea what war is like and what these heroes went through. I’m glad we had the opportunity to hear from the veterans themselves.”
 
During the days in service, Mail Call was a highlight of the soldiers’ day. So, even today, Mail Call is a focal point of every Honor Flight experience. Following the school-wide Honor Flight assembly, Judge Memorial students, staff, and faculty had the opportunity to write letters to veterans. These letters are to be delivered as part of the emotional “Mail Call,” which occurs as the veterans are flying home.
 
As one of the Utah honor flights representatives told the school, "we love it when the schools participate. The veterans really feel a sweet connection with the youth when they can see and read their emotions of a time long since past. These of the 'greatest generation' feel that their stories, their history, is being forgotten."
 
“Having the opportunity to write a letter to show my appreciation to these veterans was very special for me,” said Rachel Gondrezick, a Judge senior.  “Both of my grandfathers served in World War II and had unique experiences that changed their lives. One of my grandfathers is still alive, and this helped me to see more of the reality of what he dealt with. It has been very moving.”
 
The letters from the Judge Memorial community will be distributed as part of one of three upcoming Utah Honor Flights on the calendar:
Flight #3 takes off on September 18 and returns on September 20
Flight #4 takes off September 30 and returns on October 2
Flight #5 takes off on October 30 and returns on November 1
 
As Will Rogers said, "We can't all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they go by."

This was Judge's small opportunity to clap.

The Honor Flight Network is run solely on donations. Donations to the Utah Honor Flight program may be made to Utah Honor Flight, PO Box 42, Richfield, UT 84701.
 
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Reprinted below are some excerpts of letters written by Judge Memorial students.
 
I would like to thank you for all of the things in my life that couldn’t exist without your sacrifice. My house, my family, my education, my hope and dreams, and countless other gifts are only here because of your service. As Jesus said, “no greater love is there than this, to lay down one’s life for another.” You did that for me, and I will be eternally indebted to you.
 
We live privileged lives, because of you. We can speak the language we want, because of you. We have true freedom to speak our minds, because of you. We live in a wonderful country, because of you. We can believe anything we want, because of you. We can take all of this for granted, because of you. So sometimes we need to stop and think … and remember.
 
You do not know me. But I know you. You are pride, honor, and respect. You are a hero, my hero. You are the reason I am here in this beautiful country. You represent me, my family, everyone. I trust and believe in you. Thank you.
 
You risked your life for this country. You kept us alive. This country would not be the same without you. You have done so much for everyone in this country. Now, we will fight for you. We will honor and protect you. We will honor you and respect you. We will never forget you. God Bless You!
 
You have done so much for this country. You left home to protect it. No matter what, you are a hero:  for your bravery, your courage, your heart, and your sacrifice. Thank you and God Bless.
 
Thank you for giving me the freedom to choose what I want to do with my life.
 
I am very, very thankful. Because of you, I am able to continue my life, knowing that I am safe. Because you made sure our country is safe, many generations will be able to follow their dreams.
 
There’s no amount of thank yous in the world that can be given to a Vet, and it is our job of the youth to not only give praise, but raise awareness for veterans and others serving. Thank you for your service. Because of you, I am able to pursue my dreams.
 
Thank you for spending your life to make this country what it is today. Free. Because of people just like you, I have the freedom of religion, school, and even speech – something I take for granted too often. I know a “thank you” on a piece of paper doesn’t say much, but I hope you know the meaning behind it. Thank you.
 
It is only because of your sacrifices that each and every member of this country can count our blessings and continue to live our lives in freedom. Please don’t underestimate the importance of all you have done and don’t underestimate how much it means to us. You are a true hero.
 
What you did to save not only those you loved, but also, all the people you didn’t even know was a true sacrifice. You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but I am thankful with my every breath for you. I will never be able to repay what you have done for me. I will never forget. You are an inspiration.
 
Dear Amazing Protector of Freedom, The sacrifice you made to protect people that you don’t even know is so immense. I know one thing for sure, if there is a God, you will surely be with him.
 
I do not know you personally and I do not knw what you’ve gone through … what I know is this. You are a hero. You are the reason I get to wake up every morning with a feeling of comfort, knowing I am safe. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
 
After watching a short film about the Honor Flights today in school I was overwhelmed with a renewed sense of respect for every military man and woman. The lives we lead as Americans today are only ours because of the sacrifice and dedication our veterans have given. I am humbled to be writing such an esteemed person a letter, and hope you understand just how thankful the people of this country are for your service.
 
Words cannot describe my thanks for what you have done not only for the country, but for me. You are a hero for the citizens of this country, a country made better by your efforts.
 
Thank you for all your years of service and for giving hope and freedom to this country. You truly are a hero.
 
No words will ever be enough to express my sincere gratitude for your service. You have done more for our country than you even realize. You have truly given us our freedom, and you make me proud to be an American.
 
Every time I pledge allegiance to the flag, I’ll smile knowing someone like you risked their life for someone like me to live my life. It’s a blessing to be writing to you and to have your precious attention. Thank You!
 
As a 15-year-old teenager in the 21st Century, I live in a country where we have freedom. We can live in a free country because of you, and all the people that served, and currently serve, in our nation’s military. In a documentary I saw at school, a veteran said that the heroes were the ones that didn’t make it. I believe that all of soldiers are heroes, including you.
 
I am writing this letter to you not because I have to, but because I want to. Because of you, I can step into the streets knowing I am safe. Because of you, I say the Pledge of Allegiance with sincerity. Because of you, I am free.
 
I was going to start this with “Dear Vet” but I thought “Dear Hero” was better.
 
You are a one of a kind human being. You will always have my respect and you will always be my true superman.
 
When I look at the American Flag, I see and think of you. I see a person who served for their country, an honorable person, a brave heart. That is what I would call a true hero.
 
I know I have been taking my freedom for granted, but without you, I would not have it. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for my freedom.
 
You and I have never met, but still you are my hero. I will forever respect you. I cannot describe in words how to thank you so I will end with this. You Are My Hero.
 
When I was younger I would ask my dad why he didn’t fight in a war. My dad told me he didn’t have to because he was lucky enough to have someone with courage and honor to fight for him. Thank you for everything you did.
 
Your sacrifice and dedication to our country is what shapes our lives today. Your work is beyond that which we can even begin to thank you for. You are amazing. You are a hero.
 
I can’t even begin to imagine my life without your service and the service of your fellow veterans. I have the freedom to say what I want, worship how I plese, and choose a career that interests me – all in a safe country.
 
Thank you for fighting for me and for my/our country. We are so proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself. You are an inspiration to many young men and women, even if you don’t realize it.
 
In the U.S., we can find our dream, and our dream is because of you. I live in a nice home, go to a great school, and have a great life. This wouldn’t be possible without you and for that I am eternally grateful.
 
I know I’m just a 17-year-old kid but I know that I have never wanted anything more than to follow in the footsteps of every veteran and be able to serve in the United States military. However you helped our country, and countries around the world, thank you for everything you’ve done for us. God Bless You, and God Bless America.
 
The gift of freedom is one I know I often take for granted, but, as I’ve grown and learned more about the world and our own history, I’ve come to realize just how special this freedom is. It would not be possible without you.
 
You are my hero, the reason I wake up with freedom every morning. You are the real superman in this country. Thank you so much for giving me my freedom and my live.
 
Thank you for your pride, honor, sacrifice, and service. God Bless You, and God Bless America. You veterans are all amazing people.
 
Thank you for all you do. I can’t think of a way to express in words how thoughtful and selfless you are with your courageous actions. May peace be with you in all your days to come, and may you never forget what an amazing person you are.