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A monumental flight

Airman 1st Class Kelsey Bauers, 325th Security Forces member, waits for a Marine Gunnery Sergeant to finish folding a flag during a ceremony. After he folded it, he passed the flag to Bauers, who then presented the flag to Army Sgt. Julian Jarvis’ family member. Bauers was able to participate in this program through the Honor Flight Northland in Duluth, Minn. (courtesy photo)

Airman 1st Class Kelsey Bauers, 325th Security Forces member, waits for a Marine Gunnery Sergeant to finish folding a flag during a ceremony. After he folded it, he passed the flag to Bauers, who then presented the flag to Army Sgt. Julian Jarvis’ family member. Bauers was able to participate in this program through the Honor Flight Northland in Duluth, Minn. (courtesy photo)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla --

Americans must never forget the ones who fought for their country - those who sacrificed so much so that people may enjoy their freedom. This is one of the many reasons monuments have been built to honor the achievements and commemorate the losses of those heroes.

Sadly, many of those who these monuments honor have never even seen them.

This is one of the reasons Airman 1st Class Kelsey Bauers, 325th Security Forces member, joined the Honor Flight in Minnesota three years ago.

Honor Flight is a national volunteer organization funded completely by donations. The organization reaches out to veterans of past wars and takes them to the memorials made to honor their sacrifices.

There are currently 127 operational Honor Flight locations, according to the Honor Flight Network web page.  By the end of 2012, more than 98,500 veterans have participated in the program.

Bauers has been on five trips to Washington D.C., accompanying veterans as a volunteer.

"The first flight I went on, I didn't really understand what it was for," she said. "The way someone explained it to me, was 'If the veterans didn't do what they did, we may all be speaking German.'"

What started out as a trip with her mother in 2011, turned into an experience that would change her life for many years to come.

"At first, it was just because mom told me to," Bauers said. "Later, it was because I wanted to. I keep doing it because every time I go, I learn something new. I take something from it that I want to change about myself."

On her most recent trip, Bauers had the opportunity to participate in a flag folding ceremony honoring a fallen soldier, Army Sgt. Julian Jarvis.

"A family lost a member in World War II and decided to come on our trip to D.C.," said Bauers. "They asked us if we would fold his flag. They asked a Marine, who went with the organization, if he would fold it and asked me if i would present it."

While several veterans held it, the Marine folded the flag.  After he folded it, he passed the flag to Bauers, who then presented the flag to Jarvis' family member.

"As she told me that she would never forget that moment, I realized that was her family," Bauers said. "The look on her face when she was crying, I will never forget that."

These trips influenced her decision to join the military, so after basic training, Bauers attended her last trip while in her blues, which made it one of the most eye opening.

"The first few times, when I was in civilian clothes, it was just me walking around as a volunteer," she explained. "When I was in uniform, people looked at me differently. They thanked me. I felt more involved, like I was part of something more."  Although she is no longer living in Minn., Bauers still hopes to help the program through fundraisers or volunteering with the Honor Flight in Tallahassee, Fla.