I was out-of-town last week at a work conference (more on that in a later post) and on my return trip, I witnessed one of the greatest moments of my life. I was at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport changing flights when it was announced over the PA system that a group of World War II veterans were landing at gate C7. I luckily was in the area, so I headed over to the gate. As it turns out, so did the rest of the passengers in C terminal, and what happened next was truly amazing. As each vet exited the plane, they were greeted to a standing ovation and a series of thank yous. One by one these men were warmly greeted by the crowd as they went on to their next stop. The looks of gratitude on the faces of the vets as well as the crowd was truly inspiring.
The whole process lasted for about 20 minutes, and hardly anyone left from start to finish. The best exchange of the entire event happened between a young boy and one of the USO workers. It went, as follows:
USO Employee: Have you ever met a hero before?
USO Employee: You have now.
The airport got quite a bit dusty at this point for almost everyone within earshot of that response.
This was one of the few times in my life that I have been able to see a WWII vet in person. My own grandfather served in the army, but he was not quite old enough to serve in WWII, but he did serve in Korea and Vietnam. I remember in grade school having some vets come to school to talk about the war, but I do not think that I truly appreciated the gravity of what they did at that time. Soon, none of us will have the opportunity to see or speak with any of these incredible men.
It was very humbling to shake hands with these men and thank them for what they did. This chance encounter will stay will me for years to come.