My gate changed and I run across the airport to get to the new one in time. As I pass the gate next to mine, I see a man in uniform sitting by his family. I politely walk over, greet him, and shake his hand as I say “Thank you for serving our country.” He thanks me as his eyes tear up. Sitting on the plane later, I realize he must have been about to be deployed, and leave his family.
When I see a person in military uniform, I make it a point to look them in the eye, and thank them as I shake their hand. It’s a tradition for myself that I started about six years ago because I cannot go into the military due to my asthma. When I fly across the country to visit my dad, I keep an eye out for the iconic military camouflage outfit. I do this not only to thank and support these people, but as a sort of tribute to my grandfather who inspired the idea.
My paternal grandfather was a major in the US Air Force. Although I have never met him, I got to know him through the stories that my grandmother and father told over the years. He was jovial and believed in supporting one’s family and country. He has inspired me to be the same type of person through his achievements and the stories I have heard over the years.
While he was in the United States Air Force, my grandpa participated in the Vietnam War, and worked on base as well. He flew many different types of planes, such as E-4Bs, which are a type often used by the president, trained newer pilots in T-39As, and B-52s in, as well as after, Vietnam. His work in Vietnam earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross, one of the highest honors in the service branch, being only six medals below a Medal of Honor.
During his training period, my grandma traveled with him around the country, and even to Guam as he was stationed in new places. They were often on different flights, and sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn’t. After my uncle was born, my grandma flew to...