It seems America is as politically divided and polarized as it’s ever been.
Moments of political strife dominate the media landscape and saturate what we hear about our own country. However, for the majority of Americans, the political extremes don’t matter.
As America assesses the damage from two of the most destructive hurricanes on record, it’s time to reflect on the underlying division within this great nation. Despite the incredible tales of courage, unity and love that have emerged after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey made landfall, America’s media landscape is still saturated by needless politicizing, out-of-touch debates, and deceptive use of the phrase ‘true reporting’.
Nevertheless, Americans have never stopped fighting back against division and hate – and they are not about to give up today. This internal strength and faith were recently displayed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, while a Dignified Transfer was taking place.
A Dignified Transfer is a term used to describe when the body of a fallen serviceman or servicewoman is flown home to friends and family. The U.S. Armed Services enforces strict guidelines on how this process is conducted. Transfer officers – sourced from the same branch of the military as the fallen service member – personally accompany the soldier’s casket until it reaches the service member’s family. Depending on service availability, the casket and transfer officers often use commercial flights to bring the body back home. This is exactly what occurred at O’Hare International Airport.
Over the years, thousands of air travelers have accompanied fallen heroes and the vast majority of these people have no idea how significant the plane’s cargo really is. However, when they found out about a Dignified Transfer taking place at their airport, O’Hare officials were determined to show their respects.
One passenger on the Dignified Transfer flight, Kris Parker, revealed what happened next in a live Facebook video, captioning the post:
“My faith in this country was renewed today.
I got to O’Hare to catch my flight home and when I got to my gate everyone was piled around the windows looking out. When I finally got close enough to see what the commotion was, it moved me to tears. I saw a huge American flag hanging from a crane, Navy officers lined up on one side and police officers lined up on the other. A fallen Navy sailor, 23 years old, was being transferred to my flight for his final trip home to his family.
O’Hare pulled out all of the stops to honor this young man — note that O’Hare is extremely busy being a major hub and getting a large amount of unexpected traffic due to Hurricane Irma. We were late boarding (100% fine by all aboard) and as we taxied onto the runway, the Chicago Fire Department was positioned on both sides of our plane to give a final Water Salute.
When we arrived in St. Louis, hearts broke as the soldier was given back to his awaiting family. Heartbreaking does not give true meaning to what we witnessed but I love the fact that not one person on my flight made the slightest complaint. We were in awe, in the saddest of ways, but we were also struck with a true respect of the rights and freedoms we have and the cost those rights carry. The fallen soldier’s escort remained still with his flag folded in his lap during our flight home. Brings true perspective friends… I hope this man’s family will know what O’Hare did to honor his sacrifice for us all as he made his final voyage home… We as a nation spend so much time arguing over rights, letting hatred fuel the fire, we lose site of those sacrificing precious life for us to even have rights to argue over in the first place…”