Reporter's Note: At one point early in the presidential campaign, everyone thought the decisive factor would be the wars. Turned out, it was the economy. But the wars go on, and that’s the subject of my letter for this Sunday.
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Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
Something moving happened as I flew from Atlanta to Baltimore this weekend, and I want to tell you about it. The plane was packed, as they often are, and many of us on board were not necessarily thrilled about that. Without doubt we were all eager to get home, or get away from home, or just get to where we were going for the weekend.
But as we crowded on board and shoved our overstuffed bags into the overheads and under the seats, many of us noticed a flutter of color outside the windows on one side of the plane. When we leaned over and looked closer, we saw that they were military flags and that some troops in full dress uniforms were with them.
Sure enough, as the boarding continued, the captain of the flight crew came on to announce to the jammed airplane, that we were to have the sad honor of taking one of our fallen troops back with us to the Capitol region. I did not catch the young man’s name, and I’m not even sure of his branch of service. I don’t know where or how he died. All I know is that the captain asked everyone to please be still while the honor guard came on board and took their seats, and for all of us to wait until they had deplaned when we landed. He also said that the young man’s parents and brother would be with us too.
When they came aboard, everyone applauded for them, which seemed like a somewhat odd thing to do, but it was the well-intentioned if awkward effort of a group of Americans trying to express the inexpressible; trying to say “We honor your son’s service, and we are sorry for your loss.”
That’s all there is to the story. The flight itself was unremarkable. The drink carts came and went. The tray tables went down and up. We stowed our electronics. When we landed, we did indeed all wait for the family and escorts to leave first. The captain and crew came out into the aisle to stand in polite tribute to the passing.
I remember every day, and I think we all should, that we have troops overseas serving the interests of our nation. But some days I remember it more than others.
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