Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An unexpected salute at the airport

Every once in a while, something totally random happens to reinforce that honor and patriotism are very much part of our American lives. I was waiting at the Houston Hobby airport to catch the next Atlanta-bound plane when an agent announced that a highly decorated, World War II veteran would arrive at Gate 22; serendipitously, I was waiting at Gate 23. The announcement was simply that he would arrive and that a Houston Hobby welcome was in order.

So, I waited, wondering if I could be some help….I’m thinking ribbons, platforms, seating order, the mayor, and more. Minutes go by and the plane arrives and people disembark. I keep waiting for the dignitaries, the balloons, the hoopla. Then, all of a sudden, there is a big crowd, gathered from up and down the concourse. He is 94, and dressed in a red jacket which is almost totally covered by medals, awards, and ribbons. On his head is his Veteran of Foreign Wars cap, covered with even more medals, awards, and ribbons. At least one or more of the medals was given to him as one of the liberators of the Dachau concentration camp. In his scooter, he made a path through the crowd. Everyone was clapping and shouting, “Thank you,” and “Bless you,” and service men in fatigues were saluting him! He was amazed. His response: “Thank you!” with a slight bow of the head.

The impromptu ceremony was not only amazing because of the WWII veteran, but also because people stopped and added their respects to those who have made freedom possible for us and so many others. Sometimes waiting for your plane can be very exciting.

—Cindy Haygood

A very short video of the veteran:

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