The nation’s capital features memorials and tributes to America’s bravest–but many of those heroes will never get to see them.

In the March issue of TheBlaze Magazine, we detail how the Honor Flight Network is working to change that. Meredith Jessup met with both Honor Flight personnel and several of the veterans they’ve served to bring an inspiring report on how Americans are coming together to pay their respects to American heroes in a very special and unforgettable way.

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Below is an excerpt from the March 2014 feature story, “One Last Mission.” The full story is available ONLY in the newest issue of TheBlaze Magazine.

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FINAL - TheBlaze Magazine March 2014 issue - Honor Flight open spread

It’s been more than 70 years since their country called on them to serve.

It took nearly 60 years for the nation’s capital to erect a monument in their name.

Now, with only a fraction of America’s 16 million World War II veterans still living and an average of 550 passing each day, the race is on to honor them one last time.

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Every two minutes, another surviving member of this country’s Greatest Generation succumbs to the inalterable progression of time, and their memories of America’s role in World War II are lost to history. Thanks to the Honor Flight Network, however, many of these aged veterans can peaceably rest in the lasting legacy of their sacrifice and with the gratitude of an indebted nation.

With no time to lose, honoring the 20th-century veterans’ service before they pass is at the forefront of every Honor Flight volunteer’s mind.

Since its founding in 2004, this nonprofit group has flown nearly 100,000 former service members to Washington, D.C., to view their memorials— massive monuments carved from hardened stone and installed into the capital city’s landscape as a testament to veterans’ courage, valor and victories over the enemies of freedom.

FINAL - TheBlaze Magazine March 2014 issue - Honor Flight veterans chart

Honor Flight was born from the vision of one man, retired Air Force Capt. Earl Morse. As a physician’s assistant in Springfield, Ohio, Morse took it upon himself to honor one of his elderly patients, a World War II veteran whose dreams of one day visiting the nation’s capital were hindered by financial and physical limitations.

This inaugural Honor Flight included just 12 World War II vets and a handful of Morse’s friends who enlisted to help. But Morse’s spirited mission quickly spread and has since blossomed into a nationwide network, operating today on the generosity of strangers and the kindness of dedicated volunteers.

Courtesy: Honor Flight DFW

Honor Flight DFW

“Our veteran heroes aren’t asking for recognition,” the Honor Flight website states. “It is our position that they deserve it. Our program is just a small token of our appreciation for those that gave so much.”

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For former USO volunteer and gerontological nurse Tudy Giordano, taking on the role as president of the Honor Flight Network’s Dallas-Fort Worth chapter was a natural fit. “Our mission is big and our time is short,” Giordano says, “but when I go on these trips [with the veterans], I always think …

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FINAL - Paul Cruz - Blaze Magazine Cover - March 2014 - no box - 216x300Get the full story on the Honor Flight Network and much more in TheBlaze Magazine.

Read about how the government “shutdown” impacted these trips, what a typical trip entails, what veterans really think about the Honor Flights–in their own words–and how you can get involved. All that and much more in the March issue of TheBlaze magazine—which you can get for FREE.

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Featured image courtesy of Honor Flight DFW.