AUBURN — The Emerge Film Festival will salute veterans with a touching and uplifting documentary to close out the weekend.

“Honor Flight” will be the final film shown at the second annual festival. The screening will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at the Franco Center in Lewiston.

Veterans and active-duty servicemen will receive free admission to see the heartwarming story about the nonprofit group.

Honor Flight Network is a national organization with branches across the United States. Its volunteers organize expense-free trips for World War II veterans and terminally ill veterans to visit the memorial built in their honor in Washington, D.C.

The film focuses on the volunteers who helped form the Wisconsin chapter and the aging veterans they assist in flying to Washington to see the memorials and monuments.

“It’s a very moving film,” said Katie Greenlaw, secretary and board member of the festival. “The characters that they follow, it tells stories of these veterans and tells some of their back story and what they experienced during World War II. It’s amazing. Most would never get to go to these memorials unless something like Honor Flight existed,” she said.

In many cases, volunteers have little time left to honor the most senior veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 World War II veterans die each day.

Greenlaw, whose father has participated in the Maine Chapter, said she first heard of the film last fall when she watched it with her parents in their living room. “All three of us were sobbing,” she said.

Director Daniel Hayes and Honor Flight founder Earl Morse, who lives on Vinalhaven, will attend the screening.

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife were touched by the film after a recent screening at their home, according to the 41st president.

“The film’s ability to reach out to fellow veterans, friends and family is what makes this country great,” Bush said in a statement. “Barbara joins me in saluting everyone involved in ‘Honor Flight’ and congratulating the makers of this remarkable film for bringing this story to the big screen.”

The festival will hold a brief ceremony prior to the film to honor veterans in attendance. Afterward, Hayes, Morse and WWII veteran Irving Grant of Auburn will participate in a panel discussion. Grant was one of the first Maine veterans to participate in Honor Flight, flying to Washington, D.C., last August.

A portion of the ticket sales will be given to Honor Flight.

“We want to make this a big event,” Greenlaw said. “I think it will be a nice way to close out the festival.”

For ticket information, visit emergefilmfestival.org.


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