Although the name may have changed, the work continues for the Pettis County Show Me Honor Flight program.
The program which began in Pettis County in 2008, provided the opportunity for veterans to tour historic sites in Washington D.C. during a one day trip.
After taking 770 veterans to Washington, D.C., in the past eight years, the organization has unanimously voted to merge with Central Missouri Honor Flight of Columbia.
“This is my baby and it will always be very dear to my heart,” said Pam Burlingame, co-founder of the Show Me Honor Flight program. “We feel we have served our purpose for this area but the need still continues for others and so we are working in that direction now.
“I’m not going to walk away from this and we want to assure other veterans from the area who would like to go on a flight that we are still available to help make that possible,” she added. “We have a different name but the work still continues.”
Burlingame said one of the main reasons for the merger is that Show Me Honor Flight has seen a decline in recent years of applicants from Pettis County and the surrounding communities.
“When we first started we were overwhelmed with the number of men and women who applied and wanted to go on the flights,” Burlingame said. “I think we are at the point now that all of those who wanted to go have been able to make the trip.
“The merger provides us with an outlet for those who decide to go later on,” Burlingame added.
The Show Me Honor Flight will take one final trip, their 20th, to Washington, D.C., this spring, Burlingame said, possibly in April or May.
“We have enough veterans who would like to go from our area to make one final trip,” Burlingame said. “It will be a very bittersweet trip for all of us since it will be the final group who will return to Sedalia.
“We’re going to make it as special for them as we have for all the other flights, but this will be the last group to return to Sedalia,” she added. “We truly see this as a way to help all those who want to go to have the opportunity to go sooner rather than later and not have to wait for a year or two before having the chance to go.”
The merger came into place after the officers of Show Me Honor Flight worked with Honor Flight National and Central Missouri Honor Flight to find a solution for the declining numbers in the area, according to a press release issued by Show Me Honor Flight.
The merger was agreed upon Jan. 13.
“We all know we could have done (the merger) with just a handshake,” Burlingame said. “This just makes everything official.”
Burlingame wanted to thank everyone who had contributed to the program in the past.
“This truly has been an honor and a pleasure for the board members and for all of us who have been involved with Show Me Honor Flight to serve our veterans and our community,” Burlingame said. “We could not have done any of this without the financial help and support from all those who donated to our cause.”
The commemorative bricks, lining the grounds of the Pettis County Courthouse, that honor all veterans are still available to purchase. The bricks are $50 and applications are available at Midland Printing in Sedalia.
Those who would like to contribute to the Central Missouri Honor Flight to continue to support local veterans may do so by sending a contribution to Central Missouri Honor Flight, 1400 Forum Blvd., Ste. 1-C, Box 334, Columbia, Missouri, 65203.
“In many respects it seems our mission is accomplished,” Burlingame said. “This has been such a wonderful, special thing to be a part of and I will still be active in the organization and our goal to serve the veterans of Pettis and the surrounding counties.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484