Nearly 60 years after the end of World War II, President Bush dedicated the World War II Memorial to honor "The Greatest Generation." At the time, every veteran who fought in World War II was already a senior citizen. Regrettably, very few of these elderly veterans have the strength, funds, health or knowledge to complete a conventional trip to Washington, D.C. via commercial airline, car or bus. That's where Honor Flight Cleveland comes in.
In May 2007, the inaugural flight of Honor Flight Cleveland flew from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Aboard that flight were 25 U.S. World War II veterans, who participated on the venture at no cost to them. The cost of that trip, and all subsequent trips, have been covered entirely by private donations. Since then, every April or May through October or November, veterans have boarded planes for their all-expense-paid trip of a lifetime.
While on these trips, stories have been shared, tears have been shed, new relationships have been forged, and lasting memories have been made. Veterans' lives have been forever enriched by complete strangers who approach them throughout the excursion to express gratitude for the many freedoms we enjoy because of their sacrifices.
From 2007 to 2019, more than 3,570 U.S. veterans, the majority from World War II, have benefited from an Honor Flight Cleveland excursion. The extraordinary feat of providing this service has been accomplished solely by volunteers, donating more than 136,000 hours to this important cause. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no flights took place in 2020 and 2021. Flights resumed in May of 2022.
Some of the highlights of the Honor Flight Cleveland experience include: the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, the Air Force Memorial, the Marine Memorial-Iwo Jima, and Arlington National Cemetery, including witnessing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the honor of laying a wreath at the Tomb.
Up to nine flights are scheduled annually. Priority is given to World War II veterans, however, terminally ill U.S. veterans who served at any time are also given preferential treatment and assigned to a flight as soon as a seat is available (visit the Special Programs page for details of the TLC program). Korean War veterans fill any open seats.