(Note: This article originally appeared in the blog “The Trends” a year ago during the Memorial Day weekend. Since so many Americans, many of them our children and grandchildren, continue to serve overseas, I believe it’s worth republishing).
I arrived at the airport in St. Louis about an hour ago, making a connecting flight on Southwest from Denver, and something embarrassing just happened to me.
As we landed and were taxing to the terminal the pilot came on the PA with the usual announcements about keeping your seatbelt buckled until we reached the terminal, etc.
Then he added “and this Memorial Day weekend let’s keep in mind the real reason for the holiday and think of the service and sacrifices made by the men and women in the Armed Forces, some of whom have made the supreme sacrifice.”
A minute later, as we approached the gate the lead flight attendant came on the PA and also asked that we pay honor to those who had served. She then asked that as a small token of appreciation would everyone on the plane please remain seated and allow anyone who presently serves or had ever served in the military to deplane first.
The woman in the aisle seat to my left turned and said, “did you serve?” When I said yes she stood up and said “come on, you get off first.”
I arose along with probably two dozen other men and women of all ages and quietly and embarrassingly took my carry-ons and headed up the aisle to the applause of those still seated. Along the way several older people looked up and said “thank you” to each of us, as did the crew as we exited.
I was embarrassed as I walked up that aisle and could feel a tear in my eye.
I wish I could go back and thank those on that plane for their kindness.