April 24th, 2023 – In partnership with American Airlines, local Long Island high school students joined with 18 WWII heroes as they visited the National WWII Museum in New Orleans to learn about their legacy of service, share their history with younger generations and highlight the importance of service, sacrifice and defending our nation.
The Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF), established in 2011 by Actor and Humanitarian Gary Sinise to support our Nation’s veterans, heroes, first responders, defenders and their families who have sacrificed so much, brought WWII veterans to The National WWII Museum in New Orleans as part of the GSF’s Soaring Valor Program, including eight WWII veterans from across Long Island.
Soaring Valor is a Gary Sinise Foundation program that started in 2015, as a way to bring World War II Veterans to their museum built in their honor, and to help spread messaging and education around the country, especially to the younger generations on the importance of service, sacrifice and defending our Nation.
Soaring Valor began after Mr. Sinise visited the museum with his Uncle Jack, a WWII veteran, where his uncle’s oral history was recorded to be preserved in the museum’s national archive for future generations. When Uncle Jack passed away in 2014, the museum presented Uncle Jack’s recorded oral history to Mr. Sinise as a tribute to his legacy of service. The GSF now also sponsors a historian at the museum, who records these stories to preserve veterans’ legacies, especially with an estimated less than 500,000 WWII veterans still alive today. The GSF also brings high school students from around the country on such trips to pair them with a WWII veteran to pass such legacies of service to the younger generations and highlight the importance of service and sacrifice.
Altogether, 18 WWII Veterans, 38 high school students (including 20 from Wantagh, Long Island) boarded an American Airlines charter in a heroic sendoff ceremony on Wednesday, April 19 accompanied by bagpipers, a hero’s welcome and a water cannon salute. The group returned on Friday, April 21.
"This heroic sendoff is a fitting tribute to the sacrifices these servicemen have made," said Islip Town Councilman, John Cochrane, Retired Naval Captain. "It's a privilege to be here with this distinguished group and we are grateful for their service," said the Councilman.