If you've read my blog post Honor and Emotion you know about an incredibly special framed flag and certificate presentation I was given at Fort Carson this week. I chose to hand carry it home.
As I was boarding my first flight on a commuter jet the flight attendant immediately noticed I was caring something that might not fit in the overhead. I had the front turned in towards me to protect the glass. She asked what I had and I turned it around to show her. She instructed me to take my seat and that she would come and help me find a safe place for it. After everyone had boarded she came back and said she had talked to the pilot and he wanted to know if it would be ok to place it in the cockpit for the flight. I was grateful and touched.
When we landed I waited until last to deplane knowing that, often, the flight deck crew is busy wrapping up the flight and don't come out of the cockpit right away. As I approached the front of the aircraft the Captain was holding precious cargo. They had read the certificate. He thanked me and I, briefly, told him the story about so many wonderful Americans coming together for the Soldiers.
In Minneapolis I entered the airport via the security check point between concourses F and G. When I got to the check point I started putting tubs on the conveyor. I very carefully placed the framed presentation in one of the tubs as I had at security for the first flight. One of the TSA representatives saw the presentation and came over. He told me I didn't have to put it through the belt and asked if I minded if he hand carried it around to the other side of the check point. Again, I was grateful and touched.
When I got through to the other side several of the TSA representatives were looking at the presentation. I loaded my laptop back in the bag, put my shoes on, got my cell phone and walked to the end of the belt. One of the men approached me and asked if I minded if they "escorted" me to my gate and carried the flag presentation for me. I certainly didn't need or deserve an escort but the precious cargo deserved it and I was touched by their offer and kindness.
As we walked to the gate I, once again, had the opportunity to share the story of all of the great Americans who came together so quickly and so selflessly. And I was also able to remind him about the 8 Heroes who gave their lives that day and to talk about the valor of survivors.
When we got to the gate the TSA representative took me up to the podium and explained what I was carrying. He asked them to assist me in making sure that the item was stored in a safe place. I thanked him profusely and we parted ways. I didn't even think to get his name and regret that tremendously. I was just so surprised at the kindness being shown that I didn't stop to think.
When we boarded the flight home the flight crew approached me and asked if they could store the presentation for me. I handed it off to them and watched as two flight attendants VERY carefully stowed it in a forward closet. I slept most of the flight with no worry of it being safe and secure.
Once again when we landed I waited for everyone to deplane. I moved forward to exit the plane and one of the flight attendants came forward to carefully help me retrieve the presentation. Once more I was able to share the stories behind it.
So now "we" are home. Quite a journey. I'm thankful for the opportunities to share the story that so many are a part of. Not one day goes by that I don't think about the HEROES of COP Keating, the valor of the survivors and the love and kindness of America.