A moment of respect became a moment of unity
When a plane landed in Oklahoma City, the pilot asked the passengers to wait to disembark so the casket of a soldier could be escorted off first.
One of the passengers described the moving scene on Facebook.
Mike Helms was on the plane when the pilot made his request, he looked out the window. The scene he described on Facebook is one of sadness, but also of hope.
Usually, when a plane lands, it’s a mad rush to stand up, get your bags, and get out. But when there’s a fallen soldier waiting to be escorted home to her family, the pilot makes sure the soldier gets home first.
“When we stopped at the terminal, the pilot announced that he would like to inform us that we were flying one of our fallen soldiers home to her family. He asked that we remain on the plane until our soldier was removed from the plane first. He also asked that we give a moment of silence,” Helms wrote in his post.
The passengers complied, and while he was waiting, Helms looked out the window. What he saw broke his heart.
“As we sat there waiting, I decided to look out the window and this is what I saw. A mother and father hysterically crying on their fallen soldiers casket. Standing off to the side were soldiers from her unit saluting their fallen soldier.”
Mike started sobbing, and quickly looked to make sure no one else noticed. To his surprise, he was not alone.
“As I looked around the plane, I was hoping nobody would see my moment of weakness but to my surprise, damn near everyone on the plane was crying.”
This included the woman next to him, who Mike believed to be Muslim. The woman was comforting a fellow passenger as the entire plane united in grief, and respect, for the soldier.
“The plane was filled with people of all races and religions. It was amazing to see everyone on that plane pay tribute to this woman and her family.”
The post clearly struck a chord, as it has over 158,000 likes and 157,000 shares. I’d like to think people are responding to the post because we are all looking for hopeful signs that the country isn’t as divided as it often seems to be.
“I saw no division on that plane last night,” Mike writes. “I saw Americans paying respect to their countryman. A woman who put her life on the line for me, and you, and your freedoms.”
It’s a nice message, to be sure. Especially as we’re in the midst of such division in our country. Though the actual human interaction we see on a daily basis often belies the animosity we see non-stop in the news cycle.
At the end of the day, regardless of ethnicity or belief, we are all Americans, and we all deserve respect and compassion. Especially those of us who die defending the country.