The Independence Day celebrations millions across the country are enjoying wouldn't be possible without the sacrifices of many brave men and women.
They're called the Greatest Generation, and now one group that helps them is hoping the public will send these veterans on the flight of a lifetime.
Inside the Texas History Museum at Camp Mabry, the reality of World War II is on display. Pictures, models, and video of the conflict help teach the public what it was like to serve and to sacrifice during that time.
They're memories Navy veteran Marvin Kanter says he can't forget. The 88-year-old served from 1943 to 1946.
“I had a lot of buddies that came back and unfortunately a lot that didn't,” Kanter said. “I worked in the Pacific, the Atlantic and the China/Burma/India theater.”
This Independence Day, Kanter joined Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and other World War II veterans at the museum to ask the public for a special gift: donations to help support Honor Flight Austin.
“We're trying to raise money for that cause; it costs almost a thousand dollars a person,” said Mayor Leffingwell.
Honor Flight's mission is to take WWII veterans to Washington D.C. to see the memorial built in their honor.
“The veterans, there's a lot of them that can hardly make it now physically as well as financially, and here's a chance to go free of charge and see everything that belongs to them,” Kanter said.
According to the Veterans Administration, there are roughly 1.2 million WWII vets living in the US, 87,000 of them in Texas.
“Unfortunately they're passing away about 600 to 900 per day,” said Alan Bergeron, Honor Flight Austin’s chairman. He says time is running out to honor the Greatest Generation and show them the memorial.
“Right now we have close to about 230, I believe, on the waiting list and we get about 10 to 20 applications per week,” Bergeron said. “They never had a chance to see their memorial that was built for them 65 years after the war was over.”
Kanter was among dozens of other Central Texas veterans who took an Honor Flight last year.
For him, seeing the memorial stirred his soul.
“That really tugged at my heartstrings, and that brought more tears than smiles,” Kanter said. “I thought we'd be forgotten.”
Kanter hopes Central Texans give what they can to help fund what may be one veteran's trip of a lifetime.
To donate, visit honorflightaustin.org/