As a Delta Airlines flight descended into Detroit, Michigan, the flight crew informed the plane that there was a special passenger on board. Staff Sergeant Andre Taylor was making his final trip home, and passengers were told to remain seated until the coffin of the fallen airman was escorted off the aircraft.
According to a Facebook post by airplane passenger Ken Fitzgerald, despite four announcements with instructions, almost the entire plane full of passengers got up, gathered their belongings and followed Taylors's escorts off the plane:
The only people to remain seated were reportedly Fitzgerald, commuting airline employees, and the flight crew. While people were apparently hurrying to get on with their lives, just outside the plane window a family was mourning the loss of one:
His coffin, draped with an American flag, was removed from the plane by the United States Air Force Honor Guard, as his family members, all visibly breaking down, bore witness to his homecoming.
In his Facebook post, Fitzgerald wrote, “Pretty damn disappointed in people today!” and multiple commenters wondered what has become of our society if we now think of ourselves before the men and women who gave their life for our freedom. Fitzgerald told Popular Military:
“Before we loaded in Phoenix, people were watching from the terminal as Staff Sgt. Taylor’s remains were loaded into the aircraft ... The really sad thing ... we arrived to Michigan early, and people still rushed to get off the plane — really sad.”
Fortunately, this level of selfishness and disrespect seems to be the exception and not the norm. Other flights with fallen soldiers have had entire planes full of people in tears as they witness the heartbreaking ceremony, and others have offered a collective, somber round of applause for their sacrifice.