12:04 PM EDT

Bob Filner, D-CA 51st

Mr. FILNER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to support House Resolution 1287, a resolution commending the Honor Flight Network, its volunteers, its donors and friends for enabling World War II veterans to travel to our Nation's Capital to see the World War II Memorial created in their honor. It is a pleasure for me to stand before you today to pay tribute to the Honor Flight Network.

This is a nonprofit organization that was created solely to honor America's World War II veterans for all their sacrifices by bringing them to Washington, DC without charging them a penny. The visit for them is to reflect at the World War II Memorial and visit with their fellow veterans.

The memorial, as you all know, honors the 16 million veterans who served in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II, the more than 400,000 that made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our Nation and the millions who supported the war effort at home.

The memorial itself is a testament to the spirit, sacrifice and commitment of the American people to the common defense of our Nation and equally important to the broader causes of peace and freedom from tyranny throughout the world. Above all, the memorial stands as an important symbol of American national unity, a timeless reminder of the moral strength and awesome power that can flow when free people are united and bonded together in a common and just cause. I sincerely hope that every World

War II veteran will eventually be able to experience this great memorial, which we specifically created in their honor.

I am saddened, Madam Speaker, that not all veterans will be able to see this remarkable site. But, fortunately, the Honor Flight Network has made this dream a reality for many veterans by helping them see firsthand the memorial, an experience that certainly live with them and their families for the rest of their lives.

This program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician's assistant and retired Air Force captain, to honor the veterans he has taken care of for almost three decades. After retiring from the Air Force in 1998, Earl was hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs to work in a small clinic in Springfield, Ohio.

In May of 2004, the World War II Memorial was finally completed and dedicated in Washington, DC, which quickly became the topic of discussion amongst his World War II veteran patients. Earl repeatedly asked these veterans if they would ever travel out to visit the memorial. Most felt that eventually somehow they would make it to D.C., perhaps with a friend or family member.

As summer turned to fall and then winter, these same veterans returned to the clinic for their follow-up visits. Earl asked if they accomplished their dream of visiting the World War II Memorial.

By now, for most of the veterans who were asked the question, reality had settled in. It was clear to most of them that it was simply not financially or physically possible for them to make the journey. Most of these heroes were in their eighties and lacked the physical and mental wherewithal to complete a trip of their own. Families and friends lacked the resources and time to complete a trip to D.C.

Earl could tell that the majority of the veterans had given up all hope of ever visiting the memorial that was specifically created to honor them, their sacrifice and their service. That is when Earl decided that there had to be a way to get these heroes to D.C. to see this memorial.

In December of 2004 Earl asked one of his World War II patients if he could personally fly him out to D.C. free of charge to visit the memorial. The patient, Mr. Loy, broke down and cried. He said at his age he would probably never get to see his memorial. He accepted the offer, and soon thereafter Earl received help from other pilots to make these hopes and dreams a reality for other veterans.

At the end of the first year, Honor Flight took 137 World War II veterans to their memorial. The mission and ideals of the program began to spread across America. One individual, Jeff Miller, from Hendersonville, North Carolina, led the expansion into areas not serviced by direct commercial flights to the Washington, DC area, and HonorAir was born.

In February of 2006, Earl and Jeff combined efforts and cofounded this Honor Flight Network. By the end of 2006, almost 1,000 World War II veterans realized their dream of visiting their memorial. The program presently has 69 hubs in 30 States, and by the end of this year, the Honor Flight Network hopes to have a hub in all 50 States.

One veteran who was able to have this experience, Ed Vitikas, put it best. He said, ``It's the trip of a lifetime.'' In the future, Honor Flight plans on paying tribute to America's other heroes that served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, followed by veterans of more current wars.

Today, by passing House Resolution 1287, we express our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to an organization that has given so much to our veterans by commending the Honor Flight Network, its volunteers and donors, for enabling World War II veterans to travel to our Nation's Capital to so the World War II Memorial created in their honor.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our colleagues, Jerry Moran from Kansas, David Hobson from Ohio and Heath Shuler from North Carolina, for submitting this resolution. I ask that all my colleagues from both sides of the aisle support this resolution.

I reserve the balance of my time.

12:04 PM EDT

Bob Filner, D-CA 51st

Mr. FILNER. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 1287) commending the Honor Flight Network, its volunteers, and donors, for enabling World War II veterans to travel to our Nation's capital to see the World War II Memorial created in their honor.

The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

The text of the resolution is as follows:

H. Res. 1287

Whereas in 2004, nearly 60 years after World War II ended, veterans of that war and all those who supported the war effort at home received recognition of their service, sacrifice, and victory through the dedication of a national World War II Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, District of Columbia;

Whereas many veterans of World War II are now in their 80s and 90s, and are unable, physically or financially, to visit our Nation's capital to see the World War II Memorial for themselves;

Whereas Earl Morse of Ohio and Jeff Miller of North Carolina created the Honor Flight Network to enable World War II veterans to travel to the Memorial;

Whereas now operating in communities in over 30 States, the Honor Flight Network is a grassroots, nonprofit organization that uses commercial and chartered flights to send veterans on an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, District of Columbia;

Whereas the Honor Flights are staffed by volunteers and funded by donations;

Whereas former Senator Bob Dole, himself a wounded veteran of World War II, led the [Page: H8482]

fundraising campaign to build the Memorial and often greets veterans arriving at the Memorial through the Honor Flight Network;

Whereas of the 16,000,000 veterans who served in World War II, an estimated 2,500,000 are alive today and dying at a rate of over 900 a day; and

Whereas the Honor Flight Network is working against time to thank America's World War II veterans: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives expresses its deepest appreciation to the Honor Flight Network, its volunteers, and donors, who honor America's World War II veterans with an opportunity to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, District of Columbia.

12:05 PM EDT

Bob Filner, D-CA 51st

Mr. FILNER. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 1287) commending the Honor Flight Network, its volunteers, and donors, for enabling World War II veterans to travel to our Nation's capital to see the World War II Memorial created in their honor.

The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

The text of the resolution is as follows:

H. Res. 1287

Whereas in 2004, nearly 60 years after World War II ended, veterans of that war and all those who supported the war effort at home received recognition of their service, sacrifice, and victory through the dedication of a national World War II Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, District of Columbia;

Whereas many veterans of World War II are now in their 80s and 90s, and are unable, physically or financially, to visit our Nation's capital to see the World War II Memorial for themselves;

Whereas Earl Morse of Ohio and Jeff Miller of North Carolina created the Honor Flight Network to enable World War II veterans to travel to the Memorial;

Whereas now operating in communities in over 30 States, the Honor Flight Network is a grassroots, nonprofit organization that uses commercial and chartered flights to send veterans on an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, District of Columbia;

Whereas the Honor Flights are staffed by volunteers and funded by donations;

Whereas former Senator Bob Dole, himself a wounded veteran of World War II, led the [Page: H8482]

fundraising campaign to build the Memorial and often greets veterans arriving at the Memorial through the Honor Flight Network;

Whereas of the 16,000,000 veterans who served in World War II, an estimated 2,500,000 are alive today and dying at a rate of over 900 a day; and

Whereas the Honor Flight Network is working against time to thank America's World War II veterans: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives expresses its deepest appreciation to the Honor Flight Network, its volunteers, and donors, who honor America's World War II veterans with an opportunity to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, District of Columbia.

12:10 PM EDT

Cliff Stearns, R-FL 6th

Mr. STEARNS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, House Resolution 1287 would provide commendation to the Honor Flight Network, its volunteers and donors for enabling World War II veterans to travel to our Nation's Capital to see the World War II Memorial created in their honor.

Honor Flight Network was initially conceived in 2004 by Earl Morse, a physician's assistant and retired Air Force captain, to simply honor veterans he has taken care of for the past 27 years. Its sole purpose was to fly veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their sacrifice.

Today, Honor Flight Network has flown more than 800 World War II veterans to the memorial. It is a grassroots, nonprofit organization, and currently operates successfully in 30 States. My office has been involved in setting up three of these special honor flights for World War II veterans, and in June of 2007 I had the pleasure of partaking in one of these events myself.

The Honor Flight Network relies on support from volunteers and the funding from donors. These individuals help us to honor our veterans in return for all they have sacrificed to make this a better world.

Without the support of our volunteers, we would not be able to provide our heroes with the opportunity to fly to Washington, DC to see the memorial created in their honor. In reviewing the current legislative priorities for the Honor Flight Network, it is evident that their efforts have continued to supply support and recognition to World War II veterans through democracy.

Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support House Resolution 1287.

Madam Speaker, I have no further speakers and yield back the balance of my time.

GENERAL LEAVE