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K-State Today

May 20, 2013

K-State graduate student leads effort to honor area veterans through student service

By Tom Vontz

Twenty-five Kansas veterans plan to fly to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 21, to visit the war memorials built to honor their service and sacrifices to our country. 

Students from Wamego and Lyndon high schools have been paired with the veterans to serve as student guardians and will assist the veterans on the trip. Shawn Hornung, K-State graduate student and James Madison Memorial fellow, is heading up the initiative as a teacher and National Honor Society sponsor at Wamego High School.

During the two-day trip, veterans and students will visit the WWII Memorial, Korean Memorial and Vietnam Memorial Wall. In addition, the group will tour Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown to observe the Changing of the Guard. The trip is made possible by the newest hub of the Honor Flight Network, Honor Flight Wamego High School, in partnership with Lyndon High School’s Honor Flight Kansas Student Edition.

"The experience will provide a life-changing opportunity for veterans and students alike, allowing our next generation to connect with the 'Greatest Generation,'" Hornung said.

Honor Flight Network’s mission is to transport America's veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices at no cost to the veteran. Current priority is for our most senior veterans to visit their memorial. Subsequent to the World War II Veterans, efforts focus on Korean War Veterans followed by Vietnam War Veterans, honoring them both in a similar manner. Guardians accompany each veteran to ensure safe travel. With continued contributions, the organization hopes to make additional trips on an annual basis. In consideration to the advancing age of the men and women who served in WWII, time is critical.

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 for the purpose of improving teaching about the United States Constitution in secondary schools. Each year, one high school teacher from each state is awarded this prestigious fellowship to provide funding towards a master's degree that includes a concentration of courses on the history and principles of the United States Constitution. Hornung is pursuing a master’s degree in education in curriculum and instruction, with emphasis in civics education.

"In addition to honoring the men and women who have fought for our country, the Honor Flights help to remind students that political ideas are not merely abstractions; they define us as a people. I suspect Mr. Hornung is helping to make a memory that will last a lifetime,” said Tom Vontz, Hornung’s major professor who is also a James Madison fellow.

For additional information about Honor Flight Wamego High School, to obtain a veteran’s application or for more information about the upcoming trip, contact Shawn Hornung at hornungs@usd320.com or 785-456-2214.