A Journey to Honor
A Journey to Honor
By Tonya Little
A documentary made about Oklahoma Honor Flights, called ‘A Journey to Honor’ has been selected to be a part of the 2017 Oklahoma Dead Center Film Festival in June. Oklahoma Honor Flights was organized in the fall of 2009 as an official affiliate of Honor Flight Network, Inc. in Springfield Ohio. Oklahoma was the 31st state to start up an organization to support the national effort. The mission statement of the program is to transport Oklahoma World War II Veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials that are dedicated to honor their service. Beginning with the first flight in May of 2010, OHF honored a total of 2,055 Oklahoma veterans with a flight to Washington, D.C. to view the memorials built to recognize their service to our nation.
OHF was established to honor the World War II veterans based on the fact that unless someone acted on their behalf, they may never see their memorial since it was built more than six decades after their service. The rate that they were passing away caused Oklahomans to be proactive with a sense of urgency to support this effort. State officials estimate there are more than 340,000 veterans living in Oklahoma. Although each of them deserves recognition in a tangible way, the OHF all-volunteer group was not equipped to offer a similar open ended invitation for a free flight to D.C. for anyone who has worn the uniform of our nation, and instead had to focus primarily on WWII veterans.
State Representative Gary Banz, who helped create the OHF, said that the OHF Board of directors authorized the creation of a documentary to capture the story of how Oklahoma responded to the opportunity to honor the WWII ‘greatest generation’ before they all passed from among us. They contracted with a company called Lampstand media, who went on the final flight on April 4-5 of 2016. They were able to capture a lot of the images and reactions of the veterans as they were greeted spontaneously at the various memorial venues. They then took all of that film that they captured on the flight itself, and selected three of the veterans to feature and expand on their story on how they came into the Military during WWII and what their lives have been like in the remaining part of their adult lives. The film company went to each of the three veterans chosen and gathered more film which they have woven that into a documentary.
“As a part of that story then they captured the structural essence of the Oklahoma honor flight organization and how it came into being, and how it was the structural support that made all of those flights happen. At the end of the film then they challenge anybody that views the film to be creative in their ways of recognizing veterans of their time so that hopefully the future generations will be challenged to acknowledge those that are serving during their period of time and reflect back on previous generations what they have done to maintain our liberties,” explained Banz.
Derek Watson, of Lampstand Media as well as the writer and director of ‘A Journey to Honor’ said that last January they were approached by Oklahoma Honor Flights and were given the opportunity to take on making the documentary.
“Of course we jumped at the opportunity and were incredibly excited and honored to get to tell a story of three really incredible and outstanding WWII veterans and just the story that they represented across all 2000 plus WWII veterans that Oklahoma Honor Flights took to Washington D.C,” said Watson. “Hanging out with these guys was just a thrill you know, the stories you hear when you are hanging around with living history, it was just incredible to be in their presence and hear their stories. The actual flight itself was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life, to see these guys see their memorial for the first time, it turns heads. The whole thing has been a real pleasure to work on , it’s one of those things that you just kind of tell yourself that there will never be a time where we will get to tell this type of story again so it was a really unique experience all the way around.”
Oklahomans have always been known to jump in and take care of each other, and go out of their way to help. That’s the backbone of our state and local communities. So it wasn’t a big surprise that when faced with the knowledge that these incredible veterans were getting to the point in their lives where they were passing away quickly, and someone needed to step in and help them to go see the very memorials that honored them and their service, that Oklahomans stepped up to the plate and did what needed to be done.
It’s just remarkable to see how Oklahoman’s responded. Oklahoma Honor Flights was a volunteer effort made by hundreds and hundreds of people that would volunteer their time and then thousands of people who donated money to honor this generation of veterans before it was too late, it’s just a really incredible reminder that our country can come together and support and be on the same page and truly get behind our heros. It’s been a really phenomenal project and we’re just really blessed and honored to be involved,” said Watson.
‘A Journey to Honor’ is 39 minutes long and was produced by Amanda Hyden. It, along with over 1200 other films, were submitted for consideration for the Oklahoma Dead Center Film Festival this year Of those submitted, 101 films were chosen for the film festival. The category for the film is “Okie not so short short documentary”.
“When we created the documentary we did it with the understanding that we would enter it into the competition and if we were fortunate enough to have it selected then it would compete with other film producers and other venues for recognition and that then would be the premiere, that would be the official release of the documentary,” said Banz. “It was real convenient for us to enter it into that competition and let that become the exclusive premiere if it got picked, and it did.”
The film is set to be shown twice during the film festival, in a time slot being show along with two other films. The first is Saturday June 10, 2017 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the second is Sunday June 11, 2017 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Both showings will be located in the MidFirst Bank Theater at Harkins in Bricktown, located at 150 E Reno Ave. in Oklahoma City. You can find out more about the film festival on their website at www.deadcenterfilm.org.