Published on: October 5, 2011by Michael Sansolo
As a frequent flyer around the country, I’m accustomed to frequently doing the exact opposite of what we always suggest in this MNB column. In short, my eyes are open in airports, but I really see nothing. Like so many around me I move in a fog of purpose, going to my gate and my plane as quickly as possible without any interactions.
Luckily, my eyes were open recently.
It was early evening when I landed at my home airport—Washington Dulles. As I raced through the baggage claim area toward my car I noticed a long line of wheelchairs headed my way. In each chair was an elderly man, every one looking tired and quiet. Many wore thick glasses and more than a few sported one or two hearing aids. Each was also wearing an absurdly loud orange t-shirt.
And each of them was a hero.
These gentlemen were part of what is called an Honor Flight. Honor flights are organized around the United States to fly the surviving combatants of World War II to Washington, DC, for a visit to the relatively new memorial dedicated in their honor. I haven’t been at the memorial to see how these men react to the memories of their youthful deeds, but I have been there with my 80+ father and seen his quiet and sad reaction to the shrine. I watched him gently touch the marble fountain where the words of Pacific theater battles bring him memories of his war years.
And so with eyes open I watched the slow parade of elderly men in Dulles airport, wheeling its way to security. I quickly talked to one volunteer escort to learn that this group was from Toledo, Ohio. It occurred to me that this group of geriatrics once stormed beaches in France, Italy and across the Pacific, changing the world as they went. All I could think to do was call out “thank you” to the group. A volunteer turned and thanked me for noticing.
Sometimes, my eyes need be wider open. It’s amazing what I can see.
- KC's View: