I spend a lot of time in airports for work. In fact I’m in an airport writing this now. This allows me to see a lot of scenes that are straight out of a Hallmark movie. Grandparents hugging their grandchildren for the first time, the frustration of a delayed of cancelled flight, good customer service, bad customer service, family reunions, honeymooners, vacations, jet setters, and for the past five or so years, Armed forces members coming and going. All of them show you the complicated dynamic that we all have with each other, and each encounter that I witness allows me learn a little more about us as people. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not spying on people from afar, or stalking cute old ladies, these all typically happen while I’m waiting, or on my way out the door of the airport.
Most recently, my travels took me to Baltimore Washington Airport in Maryland. As I came off the jetway, and headed for the foodcourt to take advantage of my 45 minutes that I had between flights, I heard an announcement come over the loudspeaker. The MC told the waiting crowd that coming down the jetway were a group of men that are second to none, and admired by many. It was a plane full of World War II veterans. The man on the microphone asked that stand up and give them a warm welcome, out of respect for their sacrafices. Being someone tha loves history, I placed my order at Quizno’s as fast as I could in order to get a seat to help pay respect for the Greatest Generation. I paid the cashier, and moved to the left to watch my sandwich pass through the little oven, when the clapping started. Three gates worth of people, as well as 100 or so lunch breakers, roared with applause as the first group of WWII vets unloaded from the flight. “Geez, where is this freakin’ sandwich I thought.” As it came through the oven, I guy walks up to the male cashier, both worked for the airport, and said,”Dude, I thought they were somebody famous, their just a bunch of old dudes that fought in the war..” I would have paid for a picture of the look on my face when I heard this clown say that, and then precede to cap it off with a high five, dap and a giggle from his retard friend. Some war? Is that really what some people think. How about the most important war in the history of the planet, that saved all of us? It took everything in my power not to say something to this guy. Instead, I quickly composed myself and found a perch near the action.
There were probably about 20 or 30 men in total, most of them past their prime, all of them smiling as the applause hit them. I started to think about how often I say that life sucks, or that things couldn’t be worse. The reflection drew me to focus on these men and their sense of duty, pride, and sacrafice. We are talking about 20-30 men, that at age of 18-19 were asked to go save the world. Wow, that is powerful stuff. At age 19, I was wondering if I should drop my English Lit calls at BGSU, and trying to find the next house party to go to so that I could get drunk. These guys were marching through Europe, fighting Nazi’s. I would have crapped my pants, and probably still would, if I had to stare down a Panzar unit, or Luftwaffa air raid. It seemed like the perfect thing for people to see as we approach the 4th of July.
Yet still, someone always has to ruin the party. Shit brick in the Quizno’s line, doesn’t even realize that without these men, he might not have a job, might not live in Baltimore, might not even exist if these men hadn’t decided to give up their youth for the greater good. How selfish have we all become, that we can’t stop in our busy day to give some props to the people that really need it. They did. Now, I didn’t really let shit brick rain on the parade too much. I stood and clapped as loudly as I could for these great men. Who I’m sure would have never asked for any type of recognition at all. What I would have liked to have done is grabbed shit brick by his ears, dropped him at him at the feet of the WWII vets, and encouraged them to beat the idiocy out of him.
So I’m going to urge everyone to do a few things. As we all prepare for the 4th, planning our family get togethers, BBQ’s, golf outings, and vacations, take a moment to soak up the time, and say a little thank you to all of the heroes that have come and gone. As well as all of the heroes that continue to fight for the freedom and liberties that make this country great. I would encourage you to take sometime and visit your local library and pick out a book about WWI or WWII and take the time to read it. While it may not be for everyone, it should be appreciate by all.
Thanks to all of you that protect us daily…