A friend of mine just shared something that happened to her, and I thought it was so profound that I’d share it with you. My friend Diane was in the Atlanta airport the other day. She said she saw hundreds of uniformed soldiers lining up in a nearby gate. She watched, trying to figure out what was going on. Finally she realized they were about to board a plane to go to Iraq. She said that when their boarding call came, they lined up two by two to get on the plane. Everyone in the airport who could see them stood up and applauded until they were all on the plane.
Later, she boarded her own flight–a different plane–and was seated next to a marine in uniform. Diane was delighted to sit next to him, and she began to thank him for what he’s doing for our country. She said he was very gracious. The flight attendant came back and asked him for his name and the name of the person he was escorting. The marine then explained to Diane that he was escorting a body home from Iraq. He explained that this wasn’t someone he knew, but when someone died overseas and a family member or friend couldn’t escort them home, he was one of the men who did it.
Before they took off, a man from first class got up and came to the marine and said, “I’d like to give you my seat in first class. Would you please trade places with me?”
The marine replied, “Thank you, sir, but I’m fine right here.” The man insisted, but the marine was firm. He refused to take the man’s seat. Aftera few minutes, the flight attendant came back and told them that, even though he didn’t want to take that man’s seat, they happened to have two extra seats in first class, and the captain very much wanted this marine to have one of them.
Again, the marine said, “Thank you, but I’m just fine right here.”
The flight attendant picked another person to take one of those seats, then returned a minute later and offered the second one to the man behind Diane.The man accepted the first class seat, but then he stood up and came to the marine. “Son, I appreciate you so much, and I really want you to have that seat,” he said. “Please take the seat in first class.”
Again, the marine said, “Thank you, sir, but I’m fine.”
The man got emotional. “I know you’re fine. But I had a son who was a marine . . . ” His voice broke off. Diane didn’t know if the marine understood that the man’s son had died, but she understood. Again, the marine started to refuse. But Diane got tears in her eyes, and she touched his hand and leaned into him, and said, “He NEEDS you to take his seat.” Suddenly the marine understood. He got up and thanked him, and shook the man’s hand, and headed up to first class.
Diane said that after the flight, when the plane landed, the captain asked everyone to remain seated until the casket was unloaded and the marine escorting it had gotten off. She said that everyone stayed quietly in their seats while that young man exited. Her husband was waiting inside the airport, and he noticed people gravitating to the window. They all looked very somber. He didn’t realize until later that they were watching the American soldier’s coffin being unloaded from the plane.
Despite what you may hear on the national news, Americans are firmly behind our soldiers, and they love, respect and admire them. May they be treated like heroes everywhere they go, because that is what they are.
A note from Angie: I know there are many Americans who are against this war, and my heart breaks for those who have lost children in this struggle. But another friend of mine was recently in Iraq, and she said that several Iraqi Christians came up to her and said, “Thank the American people for coming here. If you leave now, we will all be killed.”
No one loves war, but sometimes it is necessary to stand up against those who would deny life and liberty to others. If you have a son, daughter, or spouse in the armed forces, I salute you. Freedom–whether physical, social, or spiritual–comes at an extremely high price. May we never forget it.