Each year on Memorial Day in the USA I write a post that attempts to grapple with the world outside the bubble of miles and points. We live in an age of an all-volunteer army in which drones are replacing manpower and most in the West are weary of war. That should be celebrated. But we must never forget the nearly 1.5 million military service members who have died over America’s relatively short history in hopes that their sacrifice might end future war.
I’ve wrestled before with how to recognize sacrifice, arguing against pre-boarding for members of the military. Rather, I argued that there are more genuine and tangible ways to “support our troops”–
Yet we should show that appreciation not by those awkward moments like parading military members onboard an aircraft before anyone else, but in volunteering time and money to veterans’ causes (like the Hero Miles Program), showing solidarity with military families in tangible ways like sharing meals, and voting for politicians who will not be so flippant in sending other people’s children to war.
A United ramp service employee in Houston demonstrates what I mean.
Carlos was inspecting a damaged piece of luggage from an international flight when he noticed that the military uniform inside had gotten dirty. A veteran himself, Carlos recognized that the uniform belonged to a highly decorated Special Forces Master Sergeant.
“I know what it means to wear that uniform and what it means to earn that uniform,” Carlos said.
For this reason, he took it upon himself to hand-clean the uniform, as well as every badge and medal on it the way he was taught during his military career. After an hour of cleaning, Carlos asked to personally deliver the uniform to the solider who had a short layover before his next flight.
Putting aside the fact that uniforms do not belong in cargo holds, what a heartwarming story. I’ve just spent two days recounting how Captain Denny Flanagan always went the extra mile and here we see another example of an employee going above and beyond his job description to do something far more meaningful for a veteran than allow him to board first.
On this day I am especially thankful for the many who have died in service to the USA and hope that like Carlos, I will also find opportunities to service those who have been fortunate enough to come home.
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