My husband’s eighty-nine-year-old father passed away at the end of October. His memorial service was held in Corpus Christi on November 10, 2012. We flew there for the service. My husband is a pastor, and he conducted a memorable celebration that honored his father’s life. I’m new to his family, and it was a privilege to watch his siblings and his offspring interacting. It had also been a privilege to know his dad very briefly.
We flew home the following Monday, and the head of our flight crew was an exceptional woman named Mary Hannold. A former teacher, she is kind, considerate, and aware of each of her passengers. We loved her individual attention. We enjoyed a song she sang at the beginning of the flight, but we were most impressed by what she did right before our landing.
For the first time in my flying experience, I was asked to do an end-of-the-flight stretch: “Up, to the left, to the right, and bend down,” she said. “Then while you’re down there, would you check for any trash we can collect?” People laughed. “Very clever,” I said to my husband.
Then her voice grew more serious. She asked us to lower all the shades and when it was dark, she said, “If you are a military veteran, please push the call button.”
I’ve never served in the military, but for the first time in my 63 years, I had a connection to a veteran. My husband served in the Navy in Vietnam.
We watched together as the call lights came on ahead of us. The cabin glowed, reminding me of candles at a concert.
Then Mary said, “If you are a spouse or family member of a veteran, please click on the call button. We know you served too, and we appreciate your contribution.”
I reached for the button. Then I turned to my husband, and asked, “Do I qualify?” He had been married to his first wife, Jean, back in the days of the Vietnam War, and I’d been a high school student in high school during the years he served. As a college student, I believed the war was wrong, back before I understood that the media doesn’t tell us everything.
He grinned and said, “What do you think?”
For the first time I realized how much marrying my husband had expanded my world. I was a military wife, as well as a step-mother to seven children and a step-grandmother to 15 more. I wonder how many others felt empowered by Mary Hannold’s tribute to veterans.
What inspired you on Veteran’s Day?