I was working a flight over Labor Day Weekend when one of our country’s finest came aboard. As flight attendants, we had three clues:
(1) His camouflage backpack.
(2) His humble attitude (he sat in the very last row).
(3) A fellow passenger who’d spoken with him in the gate area and couldn’t wait to tell us about our esteemed cargo, making certain we were aware he hadn’t been home from Afghanistan since Christmas!
He slept the duration of the flight, but upon landing our lead attendant announced that we had military personnel on board and could everyone kindly give him the courtesy of deplaning first? I’d heard about this respectful gesture being extended in various venues around our beautiful country, but until I stood at the front of that airplane and listened to the thunderous applause, while this brave defender of our freedoms marched up the aisle, high-fiving every passenger sitting on the aisle (with others reaching out as far as their limbs would allow — just to make contact), I had never experienced the magnitude of appreciation from my fellow citizens.
I am boundlessly grateful for the military men and women who keep us safe each and every day — and for those who take the time to acknowledge their service and sacrifice.