Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Witnessed a Dead Soldier Coming Home in Texas

Yesterday I arrived in Austin Texas by airplane and witnessed an American soldier's flag-draped coffin being unloaded onto a hearse while his mother wept in the rain on the tarmac, her body so overcome with emotion that she was shaking -- heaving up and down.

This makes war come closer to me than before. From the plane, I could see this mother's eyes.

When we took off from Dallas we were told to wait to exit the plane so the military escort could depart first -- also that we'd have to wait for our luggage so the coffin could come off first. All this sounded pretty routine and the gravity didn't hit me at that moment.

We touched down in the rain and a big van pulled next to the plane followed by 15 motorcycles and a hearse with small US flags on the front windows.

Out came the family -- a group of 25 -- only with one umbrella. I suppose all of them were so overcome with emotion that no one remembered to bring more than one umbrella.

I unloaded my carry-on, and moved toward the exit, but stopped to watch the heavy sadness unfolding below me. I looked out the plane window and directly underneath me, they wheeled up a black conveyor and waited. The family was directed closer to the plane to the point where I was facing the grieving mother through the small airplane window only 40 feet down through the drizzle.

There was more waiting and I could feel the tension as the family held onto one another in mournful anticipation.

They just looked like any suburban family I've known -- a lot like mine. Just normal people waiting for a dead loved one.

Finally I could see the corner of the American-flag-draped coffin moving slowly out from directly underneath me into the rain. The coffin was wrapped in red, white and blue, and sitting on a shallow pine cart. The six military escorts came forward, each to carry the coffin to the hearse a few feet away.

I couldn't believe watching this crying mother so closely. Her image is burned into my memory. There's nothing like this -- to see it personally. More people should have to see this. No one should take going to war lightly.
Very poignant portrayal of an especially moving moment. Thank you for sharing.
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