I was recently on a 6 hour internal flight within the USA, which could be an article in and of itself, with two serving American soldiers. They were travelling in uniform which is accepted within the United States more than it is back home.
I was sat a few rows behind the uniformed soldiers and was able to observe the interactions they had throughout the flight. Many of the passengers thanked them for their service as they passed them to take their seats or when they walked down the aisle of the plane. The soldiers smiled and expressed their gratitude for the kind comments. They were visibly humbled by the interactions.
The act that surprised me the most was when the refreshment trolley arrived. The soldier’s requested some coffee and something to eat, but when they tried to pay, a fellow passenger would not allow it. An elderly gentleman paid for their purchase and thanked them for their service.
These two were treated as VIP’s, and it made my day.
Of a full airplane, not one negative interaction was observed. There were many discussions, words of acknowledgment and gratitude for their service to their country. These interactions, coupled with a 6 hour flight, gave me thought for reflection of our own country’s attitude to our armed forces and emergency services. It was pretty depressing.
Throughout my 20 years of service, I have never observed anything like this in our country. The only first hand experience of gratitude from a member of the public was when I visited USMA West Point in 2010; where an elderly American couple walked up to my colleague and I and expressed their gratitude for our country’s support of their armed forces.
Is this the way we should behave towards our people who serve us?
How many times have you stopped and spoken to a member of the emergency services or armed forces to express your gratitude?
I write this over the holiday season so I feel it is even more important to highlight the valuable work that the emergency services and armed forces are doing on behalf of the British public.
They are out there, away from their loved ones, protecting us so that we may be with ours.
As the year and decade comes to a close, please take the time to appreciate the hardships that you will never have to go through because others are doing so on your behalf.
Have a wonderful New Year and look after each other.