In honor of Memorial Day…With much gratitude to our soldiers and with deep longing and prayer for peace. Freedom is [Not] Free.
Yesterday, I had a quick 24 hour trip from Seattle to Chicago. As I was returning on Thursday night to Sea-Tac airport and eager to get back to my wife and kids from a good but exhausting trip, I (and the rest of the passengers) was getting peeved that the de-planing process was taking such a long time. In fact, we didn’t move for at least 15 minutes. As I looked out the window, I began to notice a growing group of police cars, ambulances, firetrucks and military vehicles gather around the side of the airplane. Then, folks began to line up…
And when folks began to salute, it then hit me what was going on.
Our flight was carrying a fallen soldier home.
Now, I don’t have more details of who this fallen soldier was. I don’t know if it was a man or woman; nor the details of how the soldier died; nor the details of where or what war or conflict.
All I know is that it was a “fallen soldier.”
Honestly, I don’t know what the honorable and respectable way to speak of this. It isn’t my intent to sensationalize this but to simply share how the image of the casket being moved from the airplane to a vehicle has been fixed on my mind. Additionally, the image of what I assume to be the parents and siblings of the deceased soldier embracing one another – and the image of the mother with her face covered by her hands will remain seared on my mind.
What must have gone through their minds?
I can’t even fathom.
The tone on the airplane changed dramatically. I’ve never seen such a packed flight of people – for the past 15 minutes ago – complaining, grumbling, snickering – grow so silent. Eventually, many began to deplane but ever so quietly but there were also several including myself that simply sat by a window seat to observe, wonder, and lament.
It was during this lamenting that a person near me shared me this fact: That day marked the 6 year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. On March 19, 2003, our country invaded Iraq and tragically, the war continues today…
Is it just me or have we forgotten?
With much gratitude to our soldiers – especially our fallen soldiers – and with deep longing and prayer for peace.
[To learn more about fallen soldiers coming home, click here]
* post originally written on March 26, 2009