For me and my two daughters, this day is a day of reflection of our military service and the time we all three spent in combat zones. Sometimes, it is a day of unexpected thanks by communities in the Northwest as well as across the Nation. With Wounded Warrior and Veterans Day events just about every where you look, our nation is clearly thankful for the service of our military members and veterans.
On Veterans Day, I usually write a little about the history of the day and what it means to be Veteran. This year I wanted to share with you two experiences that I have had and pose the question “what you are going to do this Veterans Day to show your appreciation for our service members”?
On my way to Southern California two years ago, I noticed several Army Senior NCOs in the boarding area, all in Class A uniforms. At first, I did not think much of it other than I noted that uniforms were perfect in every detail as well as the way they carried themselves. My heart sank as I caught a quick glimpse of a folded flag; I knew exactly what was happening. With everyone in their seats, a young woman and her daughter were the last to board near the front of the aircraft, both with tears in their eyes. Once seated, two of the Sargents boarded the aircraft and with one of them striking a smart salute, the other dropped to his knee and solemnly presented a the folded flag to the young woman. Rightfully so, you could have heard a pin drop in the aircraft. Upon landing, the Captain came on the intercom and shared with the passengers that Alaska 721 had just proudly carried the remains of a fallen solider to his home town. He asked that all passengers remain in their sets while the family exited the aircraft. With military precision, two NCOs once again appeared out of nowhere. Knowing was to about to happen, I stood up in the center isle and snapped to ‘Present Arms’ (the guy behind me started bitching about me being in the isle, but that stopped the minute I executed my salute), as the family and the flag were taken from the aircraft. I returned to my seat and I don’t think I heard one word uttered by anyone as they went about gathering their bags. I chose to be the last one off of the aircraft that day.
At SEATAC airport, I showed my ID card as I processed through the security checkpoint. The TSA agent looked at me with a smile and simply said, “thank you for your service, Sir”. The fellow who was behind me in the security line, followed me all the way into the North Terminal. Although I was alert and very much aware of his presence behind me, he surprised me as we cleared the escalator by offering to buy me a coffee for my service, obviously overhearing what the TSA agent had said. I can’t tell you the warmth that this small gesture brought to me. I smiled all the way to the airplane and I still think of this encounter from time to time.
Putting political views aside, it is easy to realize that our men and women of the Armed Services, by their very service, allow the citizens of our great Nation to exercise the freedoms that we have. To most, our freedoms are all to often taken for granted. Celebrating various religious beliefs, pursuing the job of our choice, or the right to vote and bear arms, are just few that come to mind. A quick tour around the CNN news desk on any given day, can serve as a quick reminder as to just how precious our freedoms are.
So this Veterans Day, show your warmth and thanks to a military member. Let a service member cut in line or buy them a cup of coffee. Better yet, just tell them thanks for their service with a warm smile. If you are so inclined, strike up a conversation and ask about his/her most memorable moments in the service. Trust me, these few works and the look of your face, will be remembered for a long time to come.
Cheers and all the best to our Veterans and Service Members.
This post is dedicated to to my two daughters, Alexis and Coogan and my Son-in-Law, Kevin, all of whom served in combat, and to all of the Service Members and Veterans.