Her song — posted at midnight Monday — is based on a true story of an airline pilot, flying his veteran father and others from Moline to Washington, D.C. In 2008, the local Honor Flight chapter, Honor Flight of the Quad Cities, was formed to fly America’s veterans to D.C. for free, for a day of visiting the memorials dedicated to honoring their sacrifices.
On March 12, 2022, Meyer organized a benefit in Kewanee, Ill., for Honor Flight of the Quad Cities, where over $1,000 was raised for the cause and she had already started work on the song at this time.
“It’s just one of those things, that it’s a deep thing and it was something that touched me, knowing veterans,” Meyer (whose father is a Navy veteran) said Monday. “You know, we can say thank you, but they deserve more than that. Being able to actually go and see the memorials that maybe they wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise, because they’re going at no cost to them.”
“Seeing these memorials, being able to go there and they’ve been through a lot,” she said. “Remember all of the struggle that they went through, the friends, family members that they lost — being able to remember them, and seeing it in stone. I think it gives a lot of people closure. I think it gives them the sense of understanding that,, we still remember them.”
That’s especially meaningful for Vietnam War vets, who didn’t get to come home from that war to welcoming, open arms, said Meyer, a 28-year-old who lives in McCausland, Iowa.
“I think it’s closure for a lot of them. And that was one thing that got me inspired was hearing these stories and being like, wow, I didn’t even understand how deep of a thing this is for a lot of these guys that, you know, that changed their whole life, just going to war,” she said. “So being able to have some of that come full circle for them is really cool.”
In order to get the new song ready before the flight scheduled for Tuesday, April 12th (about 100 vets are going), Luke Tweedy at Flat Black Studios (outside Iowa City) quickly pulled everything together, Meyer said.
The recording features performances by local musicians Alexandra Axup (bass guitar), Craig Shehorn (drums), and Tara McGovern (fiddle). McGovern played on Meyer’s latest album, “Legions & Legends.”
“Row 24” begins:
“Wheels up in Moline, headed to D.C., over 100 men seated on board/ The pilot was the son of a hero, who sat in Row 24/ He had a cane in his lap, a flag in his hand/ He’d waited a long time for this.”
Meyer was very grateful for everyone who gave at the March benefit. It’s all the more special since this is the first Honor Flight to be held in over two years.
“I mean, everything is just more meaningful when you start it back up again,” Meyer said. “It’s like we made the choice to come back and do this again and make it happen for these guys. It’s really cool.”
It’s heartbreaking to think that some World War II vets didn’t survive since March 2020, and never got to go on an Honor Flight, she said.
“In the song, the main character in the song had cancer, and so he got moved up the list,” she said. “That’s something that commonly happens — they give priority to World War II vets, because obviously the age, but then also if someone is terminally ill, they make it a priority, which is awesome.
“It is really special and there’s a lot of guys, this is kind of the last big thing — big milestone that they have,” Meyer said. She’s interested in serving as a guardian in a future Honor Flight (who do pay for their plane ticket).
“It would be priceless, absolutely,” she said.
Honor Flight gives top priority to WWII and Korean War-era vets, or any veterans with a terminal illness. The intention is to honor our local and regional heroes who were selfless in their military duty with a free trip to visit their memorials. Veterans within a 75-mile radius of the QC area are encouraged to apply. The program operates on donations from organizations and individuals. Volunteers of all kinds plan and coordinate the flight events, and special guardians are trained to help escort the veterans on flight days.
Guests are encouraged to welcome home the veterans returning on the flight Tuesday, April 12th at Quad Cities International Airport, Moline, starting at approximately 10 p.m. This flight will be the first since March of 2020 and the 52nd from the group.
Donations raised at The Back Road Music Festival, which takes place annually in Galva, Ill., also made this flight possible. Meyer played at the last one, in August 2021.
You can listen to her new song HERE.