This NFIB PA editorial ran in two Central Pennsylvania newspapers just before Veterans Day
Just One Touching Way PA Small Businesses are Saying Thank You to Veterans
On Wednesday, November 8, about 675 South Central Pennsylvania veterans will gather for a special day created in their honor by local small businesses with support from fraternal and veteran’s groups. After breakfast at York Fairgrounds, a procession of least a dozen buses will take those veterans to Arlington National Cemetery where they will see firsthand the laying of the wreath ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier, visit John F. Kennedy’s grave, and tour the cemetery museum. They will hear from Pennsylvania Congressman and Brigadier General Scott Perry and enjoy lunch together. All costs for this event are covered, so the veterans can cherish their experience without having to worry about expenses. This second annual event scheduled around Veteran’s Day is a perfect example of how small businesses statewide help weave a stronger community, and how grateful they are to veterans for preserving their freedom and opportunity to flourish in a free market.
The idea started with John Bailey, the owner of Bailey Coach in York, Pennsylvania, whose mother and father met at an army hospital in Paris while serving in World War II. In honor of his parents, John wanted to give back to veterans by offering a free trip to visit the D.C. veteran’s memorials in 2016. That first year, 430 vets signed up, which was beyond all expectations. John reached out to colleagues in his industry to get more busses. Executive Coach in Lancaster and Wolf Bus Lines in York Springs willingly came to the plate. The event, back by popular demand, has increased by several hundred participants this year, and there are even more small businesses supporting it. Twelve Pennsylvania businesses are donating food, snacks, drinks, and sweets. Three small businesses are helping with printing. Another six companies are contributing to the entry and tram fees at Arlington Cemetery.
A veteran on last year’s trip told John Bailey how grateful he was for a wonderful day in D.C., which he could never have made on his own. Bailey responded, no, it was he who was grateful to the veteran for his service. Freedom, without which a successful life in business would be impossible, is the debt of gratitude owed to this—and to every—veteran. The stories heard on the bus from veterans, young and old, about the risks and perils they faced were a strong testament to their sacrifice. One WW II tail gunner told a harrowing story of being shot out of the air and surviving. A Vietnam vet recalled his evacuation from the American Embassy and awakening in a Manila hospital. The veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice are also represented on this special Veteran’s Day week event by surviving family members. They ride in the lead bus of the procession, which is emblazoned with the words “Gold Star Families.” Along the road to D.C., people often stop and wave in quiet appreciation.
One of the chief organizers of the trip, Bailey Coach employee Brenda Shue, says it is a lot of work to pull the massive event together, but she loves it. That’s because she knows her father, a WW II radio operator who flew in planes over Germany, would be very proud of her were he alive today. This Pennsylvania small business effort honoring veterans reminds us that their service and sacrifice is directly tied to America’s standing as a great nation, where anyone can realize their dream of growing a business and become successful—opportunities made possible only by the freedom defended by America’s men and women who have worn the uniform. Let us continue to thank them for this privilege.