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May 31, 2010

"Inconvenience": A Memorial Day Story

Via Carrie, a Memorial Day story I will never forget:

I've thought a lot about what happened that day in the airport, and I choose to believe my fellow passengers were not unfeeling in the face of a soldier's death and a family's tragedy. They were just caught off guard - they were totally unprepared to confront the fierce consequences of the war in Afghanistan on their way to Palm Beach on a sunny afternoon.And I believe it was for this reason that people did not rush to the podium to volunteer their seats. It was not that they did not want to, and it was not that they did not think it was the right thing to do. Rather, it was because they were busy trying to assimilate this unexpected confrontation with the irrevocable cost of war and to figure out how to fit doing the right thing into their plans - to fit it into their lives not previously touched by this war. In the end, enough of us figured out how to do the right thing, and it turned out as well as such a painful situation could.

But still I wonder: Barring some momentous personal event that necessitated a seat on that flight, how could any of us even have hesitated? How could we have stopped to weigh any inconvenience to our plans against the sacrifice Lance Cpl. Wilson and his family had made for our country? In such circumstances, it is not a question of recognizing the right thing to do; we should know it is the only thing to do.

From what I have learned of him, in his short life, Lance Cpl. Wilson created a legacy of courage and patriotism that will not be forgotten by those who knew him. I hope there's a greater legacy as well. I hope through this account of his family's struggle to see him home, if ever again the war intrudes unbidden on my life or yours, we will know what we must do, and in their honor, and for all those who serve and sacrifice, we will do it.

Here endeth the lesson.

Posted by Cassandra at May 31, 2010 10:53 AM

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The author is kinder than I am. She believes her fellow passengers were taken by surprise and therefore did not immediately step forward and volunteer their seats. I am less charitable; anyone who took 20-30 minutes to decide to do the right thing is thoroughly self-centered and selfish. Those who never stepped forward are self-centered, selfish, and shameless.

Posted by: Sandi at May 31, 2010 11:35 AM

I'm with Sandi on this one. Then again, having been a military spouse for 12 years, I don't feel as though I am unprepared to confront the fierce consequences of the war. It wouldn't have taken me but 1/2 of a second to give up my seats. And it would have taken me all of about 3 seconds to stand up and make the announcement that the ticket agent had to make 30 minutes later.

Disgusting. And I hope that the passengers on that flight that did not give up their seats carry that guilt around with them for the rest of their days.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at June 1, 2010 03:11 AM

It was the Spring Break time, the majority of the passengers were probably college students and they did not give a damn about fallen Marine's family...
In any event, his family should have never waited those 30 minutes.

Posted by: olga at June 1, 2010 11:58 AM

I'm pretty sure you could slot me into the appalling column depending on the leg of my journey. I will do everything in my power to make it for my visits with my 6 year old daughter. Of course, I'm flying San Diego east. We two have spent many happy hours in hotels so I'd be happy to give our seats enroute home or my home for this kind of journey. We'll play here or in Texas or stay in a hotel and get to the beach tomorrow. Easiest words in the world.

Outside my perhaps 5% personal travel over the last 5 years, I'd give up my seat in a heartbeat. OTOH, I'm military to the bone.

Posted by: Curtis at June 1, 2010 10:22 PM

You know, I don't think kids care where you go or what you do so much. They just want Dad to love them.

Your daughter is a very lucky little girl, Curtis.

Posted by: Cass at June 1, 2010 10:33 PM