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Veterans receive touching letters during Honor Flight

Sunday, May 24, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:35 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 26, 2013

COLUMBIA — Bob Kennish, a veteran of World War II and a former Army paratrooper, was one of 35 veterans who took the Honor Flight on May 5.

During his trip, he received letters from family during a “mail call” on the plane ride home.

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“I received about eight or nine letters that had been well thought of, and they’d taken quite a bit of time, I could tell, to express their appreciation for not just what I’d done but what everybody had done during the war years,” he said.

For him, these letters marked a favorite part of his experience.

“I’m very grateful to my wife, my son and daughter and my grandchildren who all wrote me a letter that I wasn’t expecting on the airplane," he said. "That was very touching, because I realized that they know a lot more about what I’ve done and where I was and that it wasn’t easy, and it’s great to have a good family."

The following letter is from Kennish's daughter:

Dear Dad,

As you left home as a young man of barely 18 years old, I’m sure you were wondering if you would ever return to Mound City, Missouri, to begin the life that young men of that age dream of. I know it must have been very difficult to leave your family and friends behind and to venture into an unknown new life that you had not even chosen for yourself. Yet, you were willing to leave everything comfortable and safe, and everyone that you had ever known in order to serve your country and protect your loved ones. Not only did you protect those loved ones known to you at the time, you also helped to protect those that you would later meet and love — your future wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Because of men and women like those who are traveling with you today, I have the freedom to live as I choose and to go where I please. I am grateful for that freedom and the good life that I have had. I have often thought about how hard it must have been for Grandmother and Grandad to watch you leave that day, not knowing if they would ever see their son again.  Thanks to the sacrifices of so many veterans, including several from my own family, I don’t have to face watching my children go to war. I am very grateful to our veterans that I have never had to know that pain.

As you travel to Washington, D.C., today to view the memorial to honor those who served in World War II, I hope that you will feel the pride that so many of us have for you. I wish a very eventful and memorable day for you and your veteran “brothers.” It has been a long time coming — this beautiful memorial — and I’m excited that you will get the opportunity to see it, along with some of the other veterans for whom it was erected to honor. I will be thinking of you, as well as all of my uncles who served in WWII, on May 5th. I am proud to be a part of this family and to be an American; and I am most proud to be your daughter.

With Love,

Marilyn


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Comments

Margaret Mcintyre September 4, 2010 | 2:29 p.m.

I read your letter as I prepared to write one of my own, to honor a dad of a dear friend of mine--my ww2 Veteran dad died after the war, when I was 8 years old.
My own dad never had the opportunity to be honored in this way and I'm sure if he had lived during the worst of the Vietnam war and after, it would have broken his heart to see our Vietnam Vets so dishonored. After all, soldiers are soldiers at heart. Part of your message was actually painful to read. "Thanks to the sacrifices of so many veterans, including several from my own family, I don’t have to face watching my children go to war. I am very grateful to our veterans that I have never had to know that pain." While we would have liked WW2 to be the last war our great country undertook, history has proven otherwise. Actually, according to history books, WW1 was supposed to be the war to end all wars. While I share some of your feelings, I struggle to say that just because America continues to "need to go to war", that reality does not diminish the importance of the WW2 sacrifice or the immeasurable valor and sacrifice that was shown by thousands of young men. And today, thankfully, it seems the pendulum has swung back into the direction of respecting our service men and women, regardless of whether the war is a "good" war- a war that unites instead of divides.

My son is headed for the Marines after being awarded a four-year Marine ROTC scholarship. A graduate of a fine Jesuit high school, my son scored in the top 1% of high school students on the SAT--had many options, but CHOOSES to serve his country. His fiancé, who he met in the ROTC program, is currently in flight school in Pensacola FL (training to be a Naval Flight Officer). It's my conclusion, that the "millennial" generation, which is my son and his fiancé, may be the most patriotic and self sacrificing generation since the WWII generation.
After relocating to Norfolk VA, the largest joint military base in the world, my eyes were further opened. While our country has become more respectful of our men and women in uniform (realizing the shameful treatment the Vietnam Vet's endured), living in Norfolk reminds me everyday that we are very much at war and that there are men and now women fighting and risking life and limb to assure that you and I don't have to fear for our freedoms and liberty.

I hope in the future, Honor Flight takes on the more difficult task of honoring Veterans of Korea and Vietnam. I am sure, that if my WW2 veteran father were alive today, he would be so very proud of my son and his fiancé, both CHOOSING to serve their country; and yes, it is somewhat painful to watch them head off to the unknown- more so when I realize that there are still people who believe WW2 spared future generations the sacrifice and loss of serving their country. Thank you for helping me clarify my thoughts and the message I want to send to my Honor Flight participant.

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