Where It’s Veterans Day Every Day

Only one day is marked on the calendar to honor the men and women who have defended our country. But at the Champaign Aviation Museum in Urbana, Ohio, every day is Veterans Day.

Champaign Aviation Museum, Urbana, Ohio

Guests view planes during the Champaign Aviation Museum's open house on Saturday. The Champaign Lady B-17 can be seen in the background.

World War II B-17 vets often stop by to check progress of the museum’s project to rebuild a B-17 Flying Fortress—the Champaign Lady—to flying status. In its fifth year, the volunteer effort recently moved from Hangar 9 on the south end of Grimes Field to the museum, on the airport’s north end. It shares the space with other vintage aircraft.

When B-17 veterans arrive they get a hero’s welcome. Photos of the veterans decorate the work area. And work stops as the volunteers take in the veterans’ recounting of nighttime raids over Nazi Germany, of their riddled planes lumbering back to base.

The B-17 restoration and the museum are not just about antique flying machines. Urbana businessman and benefactor Jerry Shiffer started the project—and his family has continued it since his death—as a way to remember the sacrifices made for our freedoms.

Take a moment to visit the museum’s website—in particular a page that features bios of a couple of the many veterans who have visited the Champaign Lady. Stop by the museum, too. You might even get to meet a B-17 crew member, as I did on one visit.

And thank the veterans around you.

My nephew Wes, back from Iraq.

My nephew Mark, in Afghanistan.

I take this opportunity to honor the memory of my father-in-law, Kenneth Markley, who served in the Korean War, and my father, James Schenkel, who served in the Pacific Theater in World War II and at the beginning of the occupation of Japan at war’s end.

And a special salute to my nephews, Wes and Mark Poppel: Wes is back at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., after a tour in Iraq, and Mark, with the Ohio Air National Guard, is back from Afghanistan.

Click here to view a brochure that I and graphic designer Melinda Thackery created for the Champaign Aviation Museum.

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