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Some Give All
I wanted to post this in honour of the upcoming Veteran’s Day in the US, and Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth.
My father was on a flight recently from Atlanta, Georgia to Dayton, Ohio.
As they were taxi-ing away from the gate in Atlanta, my father looked out the window and noticed a soldier in uniform standing beside a cart adorned with American flags. He was standing at attention. As the plane pulled away, the soldier turned so that he continued to face the plane. It wasn’t until it was already far down the concourse that my father looked back one last time to see the soldier finally beginning to pack up the flags.
My father has worked as a civilian contractor for the Air Force for the last 25 years, and so it only took him a moment to realize that the plane must be carrying a soldier’s body.
When they landed in Dayton, as they were taxi-ing to the gate the captain came over the intercom system.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “Thank you for flying with us today. We wanted to inform you that we are carrying the body of Lance Corporal _____, who gave his life in service to his country. We ask that when we reach the gate, everyone please remain seated to allow his escort, Sergeant _____, to exit the plane first.”
The plane got very quiet. As they approached the gate, people sitting on the left side of the plane could see an honor guard approaching on the tarmac, followed by a hearse. When the plane had finally docked at the gate, everyone remained seated as the sergeant got up from his seat and solemnly left the plane.
The captain got back on the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for your cooperation, you are now free to leave the plane.”
No one said a word. No one stood to gather their belongings. No one moved.
Every passenger on the plane remained seated while the casket was unloaded from the plane and put into the hearse. Not until the honor guard had turned and was escorting the hearse away did anyone even begin to stand up.
As he related this story to me, my father began to cry. He didn’t know the sergeant, he didn’t know the soldier who’d given his life. But that didn’t matter.
As the song goes, all give some, but some give all.