If the red shirt thing is new to you, read below how it went for a man...
Last week, while traveling to Toronto on business, I noticed an army sergeant traveling with a folded flag, but did not put two and two together.
After we boarded our flight, I turned to the sergeant, who'd been invited to sit in First Class ( across from me), and inquired if he was heading home.
'No', he responded.
'Heading out', I asked?
'No. I'm escorting a soldier home.'
'Going to pick him up?'
'No. He is with me right now. He was killed in Afganistan, I'm taking him home to his family.'
The realization of what he had been asked to do hit me like a punch to the gut. It was an honour for him. He told me that, although he didn't know the soldier, he had delivered the news of his passing to the soldier's family and felt as if he knew them after many conversations in so few days.
I turned back to him, extended my hand, and said, 'Thank you. Thank you for doing what you do so my family and I can do what we do.'
Upon landing in Toronto , the pilot stopped short of the gate and made the following announcement over the intercom.
'Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to note that we have had the honor of having Sergeant Steeley of the Canadian Armed Forces join us on this flight. He is escorting a fallen comrade back home to his family. I ask that you please remain in your seats when we open the forward door to allow Sergeant Steeley to deplane and receive his fellow soldier. We will then turn off the seat belt sign.'
Without a sound, all went as requested. I noticed the sergeant saluting the casket as it was brought off the plane, and his action made me realize that I am proud to be a Canadian.
So here's a public Thank You to our military Men and Women for what you do so we can live the way we do.
Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday. The reason? Canadians who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority.' We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing.
Many Canadians, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of Canadians supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every red-blooded Canadian who supports our men and women afar, will wear something red.
By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make Canada on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming Hockey game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the Canada is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on.
The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is 'We need your support and your prayers.' Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something red every Friday.
IF YOU AGREE -- THEN SEND THIS ON.
IF YOU COULDN'T CARE LESS -- THEN HIT THE DELETE BUTTON
IT IS WITH EXTREME PRIDE THAT I WEAR A RED SHIRT EVERY FRIDAY AND HONOUR THESE FALLEN BRAVE.....lest we forget.....
LET'S MAKE IT NORTH AMERICAN WIDE......EVERY FRIDAY.....THE LEAST WE CAN DO....
I WILL SELL WORK,GENERATE BUSINESS, GO GET NEW CUSTOMERS!
YOU SHUT THE HELL UP AND QUIT RUNNING YOUR MOUTH!
'Cause I almost made the NHL .... long time ago.....
You must have been a bruiser, eh? My dad never let me put on hockey skates. Something about having teeth...it didn't make sense to me when I was seven.
I liked your story. Here's another one. It is not mentioned on snopes.
The airline captain writes:
My lead flight attendant came to me and said, "We have an H.R. on this flight." (H.R. stands for human remains.)
"Are they military?" I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Is there an escort?” I asked.
“Yes, I already assigned him a seat.”
'Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck. You can board him early," I said.
A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us.
“My soldier is on his way back to Virginia,” he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words on his own.
I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.
We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. “I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying is on board,” he said. He then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year-old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home.
The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia .
The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when he asked me if there was anything I could do. 'I'm on it', I said. I told him that I would get back to him.
Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e - mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me.
Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and this following is the text:
“Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.”
I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, “You have no idea how much this will mean to them.”
Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us.
“There is a team in place to meet the aircraft”, we were told. It looked like it was all coming together. Then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, “Take your time.”
I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, “Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking. I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.”
We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.
When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of 'God Bless You', I'm sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one.
Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.
I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of AMERICA.
Many other nations, such as Canada, have joined us in the defense of freedom against terror, and it is likely that these are not isolated examples of such support by the public.
[Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.] 2 Tim 3:16-17