Louisiana Honor Air
Louisiana Honor Air is an organization of local citizens whose mission is to provide every able WWII Veteran the opportunity to personally view the World War II Memorial, dedicated to them in Washington, D. C., in 2004. Due to rising fuel costs and an ever-growing list of heroes who had yet to see the Memorial, a waiting list had to be formed as LHA began a search for additional funds. In addition, time was of the essence, as the youngest of the Veterans was 78 years old when the memorial was dedicated in 2004.
Funding for the next year would include 8 US Airways chartered flights round-trip to Washington D.C., along with motor coach transportation to the Memorial. In addition, medical care for those who may needed assistance on the journey was also taken into account. Louisiana had the chance to be the first state to provide this opportunity to every Veteran statewide, but the only way this could occur is through greater awareness, public generosity, and government involvement.
A grassroots movement was formed in order to educate and inspire the public to not only give, but also participate. Our goal was to make an emotional connection, reminding the public about the sacrifices made by this hero’s to ensure our freedom. Once the funds were raised for the initial flight, an enormous amount of PR was generated, with crowds of thousands gathering at the airport to welcome the veterans home after their flight. In addition to developing a brand identity, mass media campaign and collateral materials, RUSSO also designed and published a 300-page commemorative book that was given to each of the veterans and their families.
The efforts of Louisiana HonorAir have resulted in 17 flights that have transported almost 1,800 Veterans to our nation’s capital – each funded by Louisiana residents and businesses. More than $1.7M was raised, largely through private donors in the amounts of $25 and $50. The biggest reward for us came with the knowledge that we were able to assist with such a worthy cause.