Friday, November 11, 2011

Stars and Stripes Forever

With my new travel schedule, I have certainly increased my time in the airports. Recently, while waiting to board, I started a conversation with a young man in uniform. Turns out he was flying to Atlanta on his way to Afghanistan.  Since he was not allowed to consume beverages when deploying, he had to (regretfully) turn down my offer to send him cocktails on the plane.  He did relay he had enjoyed many, many cocktails the night before and couldn't enjoy them on the plane even if he could enjoy them if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

When we boarded the plane, I asked the flight attendants if they would make a comment about him and the nature of his trip.

Once boarded, we had a mechanical issue and had to remain on the plane for over an hour while it was repaired. This makes people very, very pleasant. Once in the air, the pilot thought we could make up some time but in fact, we did not.  As we began to descend, one flight attendant inquired how many people had connecting flights in Atlanta and 97% of the plane raised a hand. The pilot came on the PA and indicated the exact state of affairs.  The exact state of affairs meaning most of the people on the flight would miss connecting flights. There were grumbles. Many people take it in stride (because smart people know that being obnoxious and overly vocal about a problem does little to resolve it) but some people were blatantly and angrily displaced by the news.

A few minutes later, one of the flight attendants got back on the PA and talked about the soldier I had mentioned. It was a thoughtful, witty and wonderful thank-you given to this young kid to which the majority of the crowd responds with whoops and cheers. Thank you. It really made missing a connecting flight pale in context.

Yesterday, I heard a conversation about war and US deployment. One man claimed,  "but war is stupid." Well, that is saying something.  It was weird that the word 'but' was included because it wasn't like the conversation went "War sounds fun...BUT it is stupid." War is tough. And dangerous. And irreversible. Thanks Smarty.  No one thought it was a fun Saturday night where we dress in whipped cream bathing suits and tickle each other.

And listen, I know wrenches thrown in our schedules is never our first choice. I just think most of life is about perspective. And on Veterans Day I want to have this perspective: Missing flights sucks. No doubt about it. Guess what doesn't suck? People, other people as in NOT me who risk life to protect the freedom I so sweetly enjoy to talk openly about whatever I choose (including how preposterous it must feel at times to miss a flight.)  I don't even know if I would have the moxie to suit up, furnish weapon and fight. Guess what else doesn't suck? That I will never have to know if I have the moxie because we are not required to join the armed forces in this country. So another thanks to men and women who are clearly braver than I.

We have the 2nd largest military in the world and it dates back to 1775. But, there are vets all around this globe as well as those actively serving in almost every country (seriously, not every country has military including Vatican City which we all know who runs that place and St. Lucia because it is really about sunbathing and tropical drinks there!)

Give a vet a thanks today. He or she has done, seen, and lived in ways I will never experience and I am ever grateful for it. I am also grateful for winning a beautiful Freedom lottery by being born in the USA.

Stars and Stripes forever.

20 comments:

Eva Gallant said...

That was an excellent post. Perspective is what it's all about!

Mom in High Heels said...

What an excellent post. It does put it all in perspective. We have many, many friends deployed right now and many who unfortunately will will never come home.
I kissed my hero today. Thankfully he's home this Veterans Day, but next year I don't think we'll be so lucky. :(

Pricilla said...

Very well written. My husband, who lived through the draft of Viet Nam well recalls what it was like not necessarily having a choice as to whether to join or not. It is a precious thing.

Hookin It With Mr. Lick Lick said...

Well said JennyMac!

sweethomeamy.com said...

Great post, thanks for sharing!

vanilla said...

We are blessed beyond belief and grateful to the defenders of our blessings!

Mommy Lisa said...

yeah-men sister!

the walking man said...

As an honorably discharged Non-Combat veteran (unless you count fighting the North Atlantic during hurricanes as combat)I will say that it was a good thing you made happen when you got people to realize that their tiny problems did not connect with the soldiers huge upcoming one.

But I will say this too, once the uniform comes off and the wars are over the soldiers/veteran becomes one of the most easily forgotten segments of society. Seriously just among this crop a 13.5% unemployment rate? Untreated mental issues and an ongoing war with the VA with all veterans still alive from all wars.

The nation is only grateful when they can see the solid bulk of a man or woman in uniform.

They don't want to think about Dover AFB dumping remains in a landfill by mistake or even those 8000 aluminum boxes that so far have arrived on C-5 cargo jets in the past 11 years.

Yeah it's good to acknowledge a soldier but a veteran is a used to be soldier and we easily forget them except on 11/11.

I am not bitching here JennyM just putting it out there. I know a few dozen homeless men in Detroit and 90% of them have honorable discharge dd214's. Anyone want to honor a vet? Right now one of the best ways is to help stock your churches food pantry and fill it's clothes closets with winter clothes and keep pushing congress to get the VA to serve them who served. Now you have to be at or just slightly above poverty level to get VA healthcare which comes with costs and co-pays. My brother was out of work for 9 months and had congestive heart failure and they told him to come back in January 2012 because he made to much money in 2010.

I am fortunate so far I used my GI Bill to learn a trade 30+ years ago but if I had to rely on the VA when I broke my neck they would have told me I made too much money the previous year ($32,000). Now that I live on less than 21 I could get them to treat me after a 6 month intake wait.

There is a difference between soldiers and veterans and both groups are easily forgotten seeing as at this moment together they equal 1/2 of 1% of the entire population.

JennyMac said...

@Eva: thank you!

JennyMac said...

@Mom: so happy you are enjoying your time together and crossing my fingers it will happen again next year.

JennyMac said...

@Pricilla..I cant imagine that time and how so many young, really young men did not have the choice to join.

JennyMac said...

@Amy and Lick Lick: Thank you! Have a great weekend.

JennyMac said...

@Vanilla...so true and well said, sir.

JennyMac said...

@MommyLisa: Thank you!

JennyMac said...

@Walking Man: thank you for sharing a different insight. Both my Father and StepFather serverd as well as my brother so I have seen a different view of military as well. Thank you for bringing up some different points and it is sad and tragic to me that you have so many soldiers coming home and when their service is up, there are not solid jobs for all of them. That is in addition to what you mentioned about the landfill and the piling up of caskets in the past 11 years. I dont know that it will change anytime soon either.

Caty said...

Awesome Veteran's day tribute :) I am so thankful for all of these men and women...

Jamie said...

Great post. My husband is currently serving and always gets sheepishly prideful when people thank him. Perspective is an important life lesson. My Mom passed this summer and as horrible as it was (is), I have gained more perspective from that experience than I could ever explain.

The Constant Complainer said...

Jenny, that was a very nice tribute post and interesting story about the soldier.

the walking man said...

RE: Your last post about the Nitanny Nitwits...the entire Indictment is on line with the names of the kids redacted to either victim number (I had to stop at 8) or initials.

Google ( Sandusky Indictment ). The grand jury was very forthright in who they thought was lying and who they thought was telling the truth.

Jaime said...

well played by the flight attendant. it's real hard to whine about missing a connecting flight after that.