More thoughts on the Honor Flight:
I mentioned in the previous blog post Shawn Rocco's photos in our photo gallery about yesterday's flight. Photographer Travis Long was at RDU to shoot pictures of the vets returning from D.C. You can see his pictures in the gallery now, after Shawn's. It was a pretty amazing scene at the airport when the veterans came in, as Travis described it to me.
After the plane landed, the veterans got off and they were escorted from the terminal through an atrium to the parking deck. They were preceded by a bagpiper, who met them at the USAirways gate (the airline provided the flight). They were led through the airport by an honor guard made up of Marines and NC National Guard. I wish I had been there to see that.
When the vets got to the front of Terminal 1 and emerged into view in the parking garage atrium, the crowd of famly and friends and well-wishers (around 500 by Travis' estimate) erupted into cheers. The National Guard band played. There were veterans from other wars, and Cub Scouts. You can see in Travis' photos the crowd lining the people-mover (which the airport had thoughtfully shut down to make for a steadier walkway for the elderly vets), waving American flags and holding ballons, shaking hands with the veterans.
"It was pretty cool, actually," said Travis.
Mindy Hamlin, the airport's spokeswoman, told me that one veteran was so taken with the reception, he said, "This is better than winning the lottery."