September 24, 2011

Fallen Soldier

Last night, as my Delta flight began its descent, a flight attendant made an announcement that the plane was transporting a fallen soldier, and that Delta asked all passengers to remain in their seats upon landing, so that the family of the soldier, and their military escorts, could exit first. We were then asked to observe a minute of silence in honor of the soldier who had given his life for our nation and the independence we enjoy.

The family and escorts exited the plane, and the passengers followed, silently. And although it was midnight, and the plane had been delayed for two hours, most of us then gathered at the windows of the terminal, observing the military ceremony on the wet tarmac below.
We watched in silence as soldiers stood patiently in formation and at attention for what seemed like 10 minutes, with the American and military flags. The coffin was carried off the plane by six soldiers, the soldiers on either side of the procession saluted, the coffin passed the family, and the soldier was placed into a hearse. Passengers surrounding me quietly wept.

Silently, we left the terminal. Upon descending to baggage claim, some passengers were met by a family hugging a soldier in fatigues, accompanied by signs reading, "Welcome back home to our brave soldier." This soldier had been on another flight.

Until the flight attendant's announcement, I hadn't yet thought yesterday about the wars American is fighting. I am honored and humbled to have witnessed the ceremony for this fallen soldier, and to do so with my fellow passengers on that fight. We are all interconnected.

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