Would you give your seat to family of fallen Marine?
Between innings at Nationals Park, we put down our beers and hot dogs and clap for the wounded warriors. Sometimes we clap for soldiers walking through the airport. Sometimes we festoon our cars with yellow bumper stickers that proudly announce that we "Support the Troops."
That's what we're willing to do. But would you give up your seat on an overbooked flight for a soldier? What about a soldier's family? What about a dead soldier's family escorting his casket home?
According to a riveting article in the Washington Times, a flight attendant at Washington National recently pleaded with passengers to accept a $500 flight voucher and take a later flight so that the family of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Justin Wilson, killed in Afghanistan, could accompany his casket home from Dover Air Force Base. Initially, three passengers volunteered, including Colleen M. Getz, a Pentagon official who wrote the Times story.
But we three were not enough: Six were needed. So we stood there watching the family - dignified and mute, weighed with grief and fatigue - as the airline representative repeatedly called for assistance for this dead soldier's family. No one else stepped forward. The calls for volunteers may have lasted only 20 or 30 minutes, but it seemed hours. It was almost unbearable to watch, yet to look away was to see the more than 100 other witnesses to this tragedy who were not moved to help. Then it did become unbearable when, in a voice laced with desperation and tears, the airline representative pleaded, "This young man gave his life for our country, can't any of you give your seats so his family can get home?" Those words hung in the air. Finally, enough volunteers stepped forward.
So: would you have given up your seat? What do you think of the people who refused? Has eight years of war made us numb? Please weigh in on the comments board below.
June 9, 2010; 10:03 AM ET
| Tags: Colleen Getz, Dover Air Force Base, Justin Wilson, Marine Corps, National Airport, Washington Times
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