Anyone who’s done much flying will know how aggravating airports and air travel can be. Anger and frustration was how David Darrow described a July 4th weekend flight earlier this month. An unexpected “fellow traveler” made him realize just how puny his problems really were.
Being herded through security, loaded with baggage, dealing with crowds, rushing, the endless waiting, before boarding a cramped, uncomfortable flight—all of it takes its toll. Holiday flights, especially, are both mentally and physically exhausting.
It was enough to leave Darrow headed from Phoenix to Charlotte more than a little bit agitated by the time he boarded his American Airlines flight.
Yet, he shared a remarkable experience that occurred just before takeoff, one that he says he’ll never forget. On a Facebook post, he wrote:
Yesterday I took a 10:00am flight from Phoenix to Charlotte and it was the most emotionally draining flight I have ever taken. I have never cried so much for someone I did not know as I did yesterday. I boarded highly aggravated and angry. (If you fly all a lot you’ll understand holiday travel: it’s absolutely madness).
As Darrow was enduring that excruciating last wait before takeoff, the pilot announced that there was one more delay before departure. What came next caught Darrow off guard emotionally. As he described in his Facebook post:
I sat down in my seat and two minutes later, boarding was ceased by the captain and told to stop in our tracks and observe a moment of silence. I thought, ‘Now what?’ And I got even more angry because I was going to miss my connection.
That’s when the “fellow traveler” made his appearance. Looking out the cabin window, Darrow caught sight of half a dozen baggage handlers loading a large, rectangular container onto the plane’s conveyer belt. What stood out the most about it was the American flag that was draped over the top of it.
The patriotic gesture was pretty obvious; this was the body of a fallen soldier.
It was then that Darrow and all of the passengers, and the pilot, shared a moment that Darrow will always remember. He wrote:
The captain came out of the cockpit to address the passengers in person. He was a guy who also served, and his four kids are currently serving, and he did not keep it together and we all cried. The entire flight I looked at the floor of the plane crying as I knew this fine gentleman is down there so I can sit here and eat dumb peanuts. I felt guilty and so sad. My problems seemed trivial. Here I was flying home to be with my family for the 4th. Here he was going to with his family to be buried on the 4th […]
[…] This soldier, who died in Afghanistan, was being flown home to North Carolina on our flight. You see this is what the 4th July is about. This is why we are free to argue over a stupid athlete and a stupid pair of tennis shoes. It about a sacrifice of men and women who since 1776 have laid down their lives so I can eat hotdogs and drink beer and watch fireworks […]
[…] I wanted to share this because this is a 4th of July I will never forget. My problems melted away and I was so proud of America and American Airlines for showing so much respect.
Please keep his family in your thoughts today. Because somewhere in North Carolina a family is burying their son, dad, brother, sisters and his mother are saying goodbye today.