By Libby Esterle, Senior Account Executive
A few months ago, our oldest daughter was one of 40 Cincinnati-area high school students selected to accompany a group of World War II veterans to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans as part of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Soaring Valor program.
It was truly a very touching and educational once-in-a-lifetime experience that she (and we) will never forget.
Throughout the process (prepping for the trip and send-off, during the trip and the welcome home), I was impressed with how organized everything was, down to every last detail and, the ongoing communications with the parents, students and school were excellent as well.
Here a few things that stood out to me:
- Up Close and Personal. By accompanying the vets, the students had the opportunity to hear stories from the men and women who lived it vs. reading about the war in books or simply visiting a museum. And they were very grateful for it, especially considering most of the vets are well into their late 80s and 90s.
- Welcome Back! When the students and vets returned from the trip, there was awesome signage at the airport, along with people from the Honor Flight Network and war re-enactment groups to welcome them back home. It was also great to see how happy everyone was and how much they enjoyed the experience.
- Smile! You’re on Camera! When the group left for New Orleans, our own Fox 19 was on-hand at the airport to interview the students (ironically, our daughter was one of them!), vets and chaperones about the trip and what they were most looking forward to seeing. It was also great exposure for the foundation and high school and gave the attendees an opportunity to talk about their experience in their own words.
- Color Coded. In order to easily identify the group on the trip, the foundation also provided color-coded T-shirts for each generation—students in red, chaperones in light blue—with the vets in navy blue polo shirts. It was a thoughtful gesture that also made a nice little (and practical) souvenir.
- Say Cheese! The foundation also sends a professional photographer on each trip to capture the experience and provide great images to share with the participants and online.
- Thank You. Since returning, our daughter and “her” vet have stayed in touch, sharing their photos and memories. And one day, I walked downstairs to see a beautiful bouquet on our kitchen table—it was a thank you from her vet. Pay attention, younger generation—that’s the way to a woman’s heart!
If you would like to learn more about this experience from one of the student’s perspective, please click here.