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Memorial Day perspective

Memorial Day perspective

Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 8:00 pm

“Flight 2661 departing for Nashville has been delayed one hour. We’ll keep you updated.” The announcement brought a collective groan throughout the area of Gate 25. A blonde woman in a tailored navy suit spoke loudly into her little red phone, “Well, I’m sorry! You’ll just have to ask Grandma to take you to practice. I’m not gonna get there in time!”  
A tall middle-aged businessman with stylish red hair cursed vehemently and then put on a pleasant voice to speak into his I-phone, “Jim, this is Pete Young. Still in Charlotte. Looks like I won’t make the dinner meeting. Yeah, delayed. I’ll get there when I can.”
An older woman wearing too-tight purple stretch pants fumbled with an outdated phone, “Marge, don’t go to baggage claim until I call you. Our flight is delayed again. I SAID OUR FLIGHT IS DELAYED! Can you hear me now? I DON’T KNOW WHY! Do I work for the airlines, Marge? I said that I’d call ya and I’ll call ya.”  
There was one thread running through Gate 25 last Friday afternoon. Discontent. I thought it was all over but the crying. But when a tired toddler started screaming because his mama wouldn’t buy a Mrs. Fields sugar cookie covered with pink icing … it was just all over.
Though I chose not to cuss or cry for a cookie, my frustration level was rising. At first it was just a 30 minute delay, then an hour, then two hours. I bought an over-priced bottle of water and camped out on my computer while stressed-out businessmen paced the floor and tormented the airline personnel.  
One woman glanced over at me and said wearily, “This is miserable, isn’t it?” I knew the answer to that question but I chose to just smile and remain silent. No. Misery is not sitting in an airport waiting for a plane. Not even close.
That’s when it happened. A large group of young military personnel walked by. Wearing fatigues, camo backpacks and carrying water bottles, the young men and women exuded an air of confidence. They never said a word, but just their physical presence put all the complaining at Gate 25 in perspective for me.
I spoke quietly to the woman who believed we were in misery. “We might get home late tonight. But we’re going home. I don’t know where those soldiers are going but I doubt they’re going home. They’re not going home tonight or tomorrow night. They may never go home alive. Waiting for a delayed airplane is no big deal.”
Eventually Flight 2661 was canceled. I, along with my Gate 25 comrades, ran full-bore to another part of the airport hoping to get a seat on a later flight. To the best of my knowledge, everyone on Flight 2661 made it home last Friday night or early Saturday morning. Our luggage didn’t arrive with us, but we all made it safe and sound.
When I laid my head on the pillow that night, I prayed for the soldiers who walked by Gate 25 of the Charlotte Airport. Their lives had helped put my own life into perspective. And with Memorial Day approaching, I also thanked God for the men and women who had given their lives to preserve our freedom. The ones who never came home.  
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For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website, lisasmartt.com.

Published in The Messenger 5.23.12

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