Military veterans, most from World War II, line up for a photo during one of their first stops during an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan

Iowa veterans receive hugs at the airport after landing on their Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Donald Trump’s plan to stage a parade to display our nation’s military strength reminded me of the veterans I met during an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., several years ago.

Most of the men and women on the one-day trip were in their 80s or 90s and were among the last veterans of World War II.

Many had survived harrowing experiences and were undoubtedly considered heroes, but were unwilling to refer to themselves that way.

The author, Cindy Hadish, interviews a veteran during the Honor Flight trip.

They were a spirited group who held up through the early-morning flight from Cedar Rapids to the whirlwind tour of veterans memorials and the flight back home, where they were welcomed by a crowd of people who gathered to greet their return.

I can’t speak for this group, but I would guess they felt more honored by the hugs they received after their flight landed in Washington; the students who lined up to shake their hands as they visited the monuments and the individuals who thanked them for their service as they toured the sites and returned home, than they would be by tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Many of the veterans I met that day have passed on, but memories of that day and their humble service still remain strong. Follow future trips on the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight’s Facebook page.

Iowa veterans visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during an Honor Flight trip in 2012. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

An Iowa veteran of World War II touches the Vietnam Memorial Wall during an Honor Flight trip. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Teachers and students on a field trip line up to shake the hands of Iowa veterans during an Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Iowa veterans visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial during a 2012 Honor Flight. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

An Iowa veteran pauses at the top of the stairs at the Lincoln Memorial. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

A crowd greets veterans from the Honor Flight as they return to the Eastern Iowa Airport. (photo/Cindy Hadish)