How One of the Busiest Airports in the Word Honored a Fallen Sailor Will Restore Your Faith in America
It seems America is as politically divided and polarized as it's ever been.
Moments of political strife dominate the media landscape and saturate what we hear about our own country. However, for the majority of Americans, the political extremes don't matter.
Last Friday, another beautiful dispatch was posted from Real America.
A Dignified Transfer was taking place at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
A Dignified Transfer is what happens when the body of a fallen service member is returned home to family for burial. There are strict guidelines for how to transfer a fallen service member as they arrive in the U.S.
The casket will be escorted personally to the family by transfer officers from the appropriate service branch, often on a commercial flight. This is precisely what happened at O'Hare.
Often, when these transfers happen, the passengers have no idea they were flying with an American hero.
O'Hare Airport was not about to let that happen.
Unsuspecting passenger Kris Parker cataloged how the airport and passengers honored the soldier as his casket arrived to be transferred to her flight.
My faith in this country was renewed today.
I got to O'Hare to catch my flight home and when I got to my gate everyone was piled around the windows looking out. When I finally got close enough to see what the commotion was, it moved me to tears. I saw a huge American flag hanging from a crane, Navy officers lined up on one side and police officers lined up on the other. A fallen Navy sailor, 23 years old, was being transferred to my flight for his final trip home to his family.
O'Hare pulled out all of the stops to honor this young man — note that O'Hare is extremely busy being a major hub and getting a large amount of unexpected traffic due to Hurricane Irma. We were late boarding (100% fine by all aboard) and as we taxied onto the runway, the Chicago Fire Department was positioned on both sides of our plane to give a final Water Salute.
When we arrived in St. Louis, hearts broke as the soldier was given back to his awaiting family. Heartbreaking does not give true meaning to what we witnessed but I love the fact that not one person on my flight made the slightest complaint. We were in awe, in the saddest of ways, but we were also struck with a true respect of the rights and freedoms we have and the cost those rights carry. The fallen soldier's escort remained still with his flag folded in his lap during our flight home. Brings true perspective friends... I hope this man's family will know what O'Hare did to honor his sacrifice for us all as he made his final voyage home... We as a nation spend so much time arguing over rights, letting hatred fuel the fire, we lose site of those sacrificing precious life for us to even have rights to argue over in the first place...
That is Real America.
Rest in peace, Hero.