Archive for category Memorial Day
Last Saturday, as I was returning home from an auto glass repair and replacement industry meeting, I had the honor of experiencing an event that I’ve never before had. I was sitting on a Southwest Airlines plane in Jacksonville, Florida when the pilot asked for everyone’s attention. After flying several million miles in my life I was expecting to hear him tell everyone onboard the old tired lines of “Welcome to Southwest” or “Today we’ll be flying over storms so be sure to keep your seat belts securely fastened” or “We’ve got a great cabin crew today…”; something that you hear each time you fly, but really don’t pay that much attention to. What I heard caused me to stop everything that I felt was important at that instant as did everyone else on the plane. Very sadly, but at the same time everyone on the plane had the extreme honor of carrying home a fallen sailor. The pilot never told us his name. The fallen sailor had his Navy escort taking him home to his family for his final rest.
Perhaps you have heard a pilot make an announcement such as that on a flight that you’ve been on, but never before had I heard that announcement. The pilot spoke solemnly and respectfully of the sailor that had fallen, his escort in uniform quietly sitting alone in the front row we all listened attentively to the pilot. I’ve never heard such quiet during a pilot’s announcement. Everyone stopped and listened; people loudly on cell phones stopped talking; not a sound was being made. After the pilot spoke everyone on board began to softly clap hands for the fallen soldier. The rest of the flight was one of the quietest flights I’ve ever experienced.
You read in newspapers or hear on your local news of fallen soldiers who lay down their lives for each of us and our country every day. Although I do not have any military experience, my father and oldest brother served and I always say a quick prayer. But in this experience it really brought into focus the idea of sacrifice and how little of the various things that we feel are important in our daily lives really are in comparison.
The pilot made another announcement before we landed asking everyone to remain seated after the plane landed and stopped at the gate; allowing him and the Navy escort to leave the plane in respect. No one moved or made a sound after we landed and arrived at the gate. Everyone quietly sat and watched the very young sailor in the first row stand, put on his uniform jacket and wait for the pilot to come out from the cockpit. When the captain opened the door and stood next to the Navy escort they saluted each other and slowly walked off the plane. Still no one moved until the flight attendant thanked everyone for their cooperation and everyone quietly exited the plane.
Whenever I walk through an airport I thank soldiers in their camouflage uniforms for their service. The response is always, “Thank you sir.” I keep thinking about the honor of being on a plane with someone who was prepared to give his life in service to our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. A thank you doesn’t suffice.
Interment of Major General Jesse M. Allen
Memorial Day celebrates the men and women who gave their lives in service to the Armed Forces of the United States of America. The debt of gratitude that we owe each of those who have fallen and who have given the ultimate sacrifice is a debt that cannot be repaid. Since the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 there have been over 1,354,664 Americans who have died in service to our country. Memorial Day gives us all the opportunity to honor those who have died while serving the country by remembrances.
In 2012 my uncle, Retired Air Force Major General Jesse M. Allen, died. He served in both the Army and Air Force. His military service began in 1942 when he enlisted after high school and was sent to Europe during World War II. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery earlier this month and he had a rather storied combat career serving in World War II, the Korean War and in the Viet Nam War. During the Korean and Viet Nam Wars he flew over 237 combat missions. My uncle was known to say that “If you can dream it you can become it” as he entered the service as a private and rose to the rank of major general when he retired after 30 years of service.
This day of remembrance also gives us an opportunity to recognize and honor all who serve and have served the Armed Forces of the United States. We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to every American who chose to serve and Memorial Day is an appropriate time to do so. Although I did not serve, there have been a number of my family members who have honorably served over the years starting with Ethan Allen, the leader of the Green Mountain Boys in Vermont during the Revolutionary War. Both my father and brother served as combat pilots. I am very proud of their service.
I did not have the honor to serve, but if you have served in the Armed Forces or have family or friends who have served I’m sure that you are proud of your own service or the service that others have given to our country. Today is a great day to remember and give thanks for that service.
I have had the great honor to have worked with many people in my career who honorably served their country and I would like to thank them again for their service. The lessons that those who serve learn about loyalty, leadership, honor, integrity, and personal ethics and these are assets that they are able to build upon and utilize throughout their lives. One does not have to serve in the Armed Forces to have learned these important attributes, but those who have served have a great sense of what these values mean both on a personal and professional level.
We should all be thankful on Memorial Day for individuals who choose to serve their country by joining the military to help protect us so that we can live in a safe and secure country. I know that on this day I am very proud of my family members who have served and those that serve today. I want to thank them for their sacrifices in service to our great nation.
I hope that you take the time to give thanks for their service and sacrifice as well.