RINCON — They aren’t medical facilities but a considerable amount of healing occurs at them daily.
They are places where painful memories are soothed by overdue doses of appreciation.
Springfield’s Jerry Maenneche bound his emotional wounds at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The visit was made possible through his participation in Honor Flight Savannah, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transporting veterans to Washington, D.C. — at no cost to them — so that they may visit monuments built and dedicated to honoring their sacrifices.
“I remember the first time I went,” Maenneche said. “I thought, ‘You have got to be kidding. This is absolutely wonderful.’”
Maenneche fought in the Vietnam War, a conflict that generated nationwide protests and mistreatment of U.S. military personnel.
“You remember how we were treated when we came home,” he said. “That trip erased all that. The way we were treated when we got there was unbelievable.”
Maenneche’s stop at the Vietnam War Memorial was cathartic. Veterans of other wars get the same feeling when they visit monuments related to their efforts, he said.
“People walk up to you and thank you for your service,” he said. “Veterans will be extremely surprised when they get there.”
Maenneche is a staunch advocate for Honor Flight Savannah. He urges all veterans to sign up for a Washington bus trip. The next one in November is booked up but applications are being accepted for one in May 2019.
“Most of the people I talk to have never heard of it,” Maenneche said. “When I explain it to them, I can read their face. They are thinking that there has to be a catch somewhere.
“They keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
There really is no cost for veterans to participate. Honor Flight Savannah is a 501(c)(3) organization that operates on donations.
See the Oct. 10 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.