Bishop Richard F. Stika joined 135 U.S. military veterans on a trip to Washington, D.C. on Oct 7.
The one-day visit was coordinated by HonorAir Knoxville, an organization dedicated to honoring East Tennessee World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War servicemen and women who made sacrifices in the defense of our country.
The fog-delayed, morning departure on a US Airways/American Airlines flight from McGhee-Tyson airport was preceded by a rousing send-off ceremony attended by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Knoxville City Councilman Finbarr Saunders, family members and friends, and officials from the Clayton Family Foundation, Covenant Health, Prestige Cleaners, and U.S Cellular.
HonorAir was established by Prestige Clearners in 2007. With the Oct. 7 trip to Washington, HonorAir has given more than 2500 veterans an opportunity to visit memorials erected and dedicated to their honor, said Jan Rector, an HonorAir official.
Bishop Stika, along with the veterans, visited the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
The 13 hour day was worth it. The Bishop spent time touring the various memorials with veterans who served in the various conflicts. Military service has always been a vocation of high regard for the leader of the Catholic Church in East Tennessee– he has two brothers who served in the United States Marine Corps.
In addition to sharing time with veterans, the Bishop was also able to speak with members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation– including U.S. Senator Bob Corker and U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan of Knoxville.