I just got home from greeting my grandfather-in-law at the airport. He had been selected to go on an Honor Flight due to his service in the Korean War. I was pretty excited to be there in an effort to show the deep love that I have for that man. I am sure there will be a post someday dedicated to all the reasons I admire him. For now, let me just say, He is a wonderful man cut from the same cloth as the Greatest Generation.
When I arrived at the airport I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had imagined a standard welcome home with posters by baggage claim, but I was surprised to see the Honor Flight staff had a whole program planned. It was pretty neat seeing all the families and veterans that took time out of their days to be there. My mother-in-law was there with balloons. Pretty cute. I’ll have to admit that once the veterans arrived my thoughts strayed elsewhere. Once landed the veterans were lined up and lead down the terminal by bag-pipe. As they walked, many veterans and service men/women saluted. It was a nice show of respect. As all this was going my eye began to jump from one honored veteran’s face to another. All I could seem to see were the 18-20 year old boys they were when they donned the uniform and were carted off to parts unknown to fight. These men have seen and felt the pain of death around them as they served and are old enough to know death at home as well. They’ve lost more than I have earned. They have worked longer and harder than anyone else.
I was in awe. I was in awe of their strength, discipline, and capacity for love.
Every single generation after them (“We”) has benefitted from their existence in one way or another. These men probably don’t see it that way. Which in and of itself is a testament to a deep rooted sense of brotherly duty. However, today, I saw it that way.
It’s very easy to appreciate that in service to their country, these men helped protect it and as such we benefitted from the relative peace that has come from it. It may be harder to acknowledge the technological, cultural, and social benefits they pioneered. They lead the way in the understanding that the freedom to starve at the hands of greed is no freedom at all. That the American Dream is not a construct of survival of the fittest but the belief that in service to each other there is a quality of life that can be achieved by all.
These men have helped me remember what duty really means. I will work to remember it and hopefully it brings them the fullness of honor they deserve.