First of all, I will be attending, along with my wife, the June 3rd Reunion. After what transpired at the Orientation and the actual event, I would not miss the reunion!

As for yesterday's Honor Flight, I would need hours to truly express how appreciative I am to be selected to be among the Honorees, and how grateful I am about the amazing job ALL of the volunteers did to make the day such a special one for me. I can fill a couple of pages and list MANY reasons it was so special, but I will concentrate on two points that for me, stand out head and shoulders above other parts of the day that made it so memorable:

1) While at first, I had really wanted my wife to be my guardian, I believe that this policy that was established for the Honor Flight, was a good. But for me it worked out well. I was able to spend the equivalent of two days with my son. The bonding I experienced with him is priceless. While we have always had a great relationship with him (and my daughter), the time we spent together took that relationship to a new level. He got to see me in a different light, and he better understands the reasons I feel the way I do about this country, its government, and what is going on today in our country. He got to see me through the eyes of other veterans who shared varying experiences in three different eras, and he go to see how much we all had in common. He got to see me as so much more than as a father....he saw me as a SOLDIER.

2) Coming down the escalator last night to the throng of people welcoming us home, is something I will NEVER FORGET! These generous people made ALL of us feel like heroes. For the two days I spent with the Honor Flight Central Florida folks, we were constantly asked "WHO ARE WE?" and we responded Honor Flight. We were then asked, "WHAT ARE WE?" And we responded HEROES. Truly I am not a hero, While I was drafted and served honorably for two years, I did not see combat, did not save anyone's life, and did not do anything remarkable. To me, I characterized myself, with respect to my service, as responsible, honorable, and perhaps, special. But when I came home in March 1968, I did not feel responsible, honorable, and perhaps, special because other that my family and some friends, no one was there to greet me or anyone else I served with! If that wasn't bad enough, in many circles, organizations, and a lot of the media, we were vilified. And for what? Serving our country! That stigma lasted for 55 years in my case and similarly in the case of thousands of brothers and sisters in arms that served during the Vietnam Era. That said, thanks to HFCFL, I do not feel that way any longer, and for one moment of time, if you ask me WHAT ARE WE? I will proudly and loudly say A HERO!

Thank you again for this gift your organization bestowed upon me!

Peter Cavaliere
Spec 5, E5
U.S. Army 1966-1968

May 2023 Flight

One of the greatest opportunities I have had is to serve as a Guardian on an Honor Flight mission with the men and women who have sacrificed so much for the domestic freedoms of this country. As a veteran of the United States Marine Corp myself, I understand the significance that these trips to our Nation’s Capital mean to these American heroes. Some may find the time spent with these veterans rewarding by itself, but when you have the opportunity to recognize what these trips mean for these individuals– it is nothing short of amazing. For many, this is the first, and possibly the last time they will see the monuments and the symbols of our nation that they fought for. It is hard to put the experience into words, but I assure you it is worth your time – not only to pause to thank these men and women for their service but to take the time to help them see part of this country that they deserve to see, if only as a small token of our appreciation.

- Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma