In April 2017 something new and exciting happened for veterans living in Southern Illinois. The very first Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois took off from the Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois in Marion. Honor Flight is a national program that flies veterans and guardians to Washington, DC to visit monuments and memorials built for those who have served our country. Thousands of vets take part each year.
Peoples National Bank has been a proud supporter of the local efforts since it was announced. PNB President Bill Bonan, a veteran himself, wanted to do whatever it took to make the flight possible. In early 2017, Peoples pledged $20,000 to help the program.
Tracey Glenn does business development at Peoples National Bank. When she first heard about the Honor Flight, she quickly volunteered to help. She and two others worked on the ceremony to welcome the veterans back home from the first flight. Hundreds of people showed up that night and it was then that Glenn and her fellow volunteers knew more needed to be done to plan out the event.“This little group of three developed into nine and we have three more that we’re bringing on to help with some things because the event keeps on expanding,” said Glenn.
After the most recent Honor Flight in October 2018, thousands of people showed up to greet our heroes at the airport. More than 300 volunteers were also on hand to help make the evening run smoothly. Assistance is needed in a number of areas; including the Freedom Path where the veterans exit the plane, the parking lot and the lobby where families, friends, and the public waits.
“We’re anticipating close to 400 volunteers for the next time. It’s amazing. We get phone calls all the time from people and groups that want to help. We’re adding more to our planning committee,” said Glenn.
Food trucks and entertainment have been added to the evening. That helps get the
approximately 3,000 people there pumped up and ready to celebrate the men and women who have served our country. In addition to the volunteers; police and fire departments and other first responders are on hand to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Glenn refers to herself as ‘ground crew’ because she loves seeing the veterans return. The smiles on the weary faces of the vets warm her heart. She invites everyone in southern Illinois to come out witness the event. Glenn and Peoples National Bank thank all the volunteers who make the evening possible as well.
To learn more about Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois, visit this site.