This is a delayed post. I originally wrote this on a plane in October of last year. I’m just now getting around to editing and posting it

Once again I find myself on a plane, taking some extra time to write. This time, the impetus for my wandering mind is five young gentleman who boarded the plane. Unlike those you normally see on a civilian plane, these are fresh troops from our military, each traveling in uniform to home or a new deployment. It’s not often I have the privilege to fly with these men, so when I have the chance, I like to thank them.

Today, the thanks comes in the form of snacks. Today, we are flying from Atlanta to Salt Lake on Delta. It’s about a four hour flight. If you didn’t get something to eat before boarding, and if you’re not sitting in first class, the best you can do for free are peanuts, pretzels or cookies, and a soda pop. If you wish to spend a little money, Delta offers larger snacks, such as small sandwiches, fruit, cheese and crackers; that sort of thing.

So why should our troops have to pay for a treat like that? Note I’m not throwing blame at Delta or asking them to serve these to our troops for free. However, if it’s within -my- power, and honestly not a plane load of them, it’s my honor to buy them what they wish. I was in the military and now it’s time to pass on the thanks I’ve received in the past.

I was in the Air National Guard. I did nearly 21 years. There may be rivalries between the various services, but when push comes to shove, each of us, no matter Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines, we have each others back. When it comes down to it, we are there for each other, we are one team. So it’s never mattered to me which uniform they wear; they’re all servicemen and women.

Politely calling a stewardess aside and asking her to do this for me is such a small sacrifice. Yes, it may take a little green out of my own pocketbook, but it helps strengthen the green they wear. It offers up a Thank You for their service and it provides an example I am hopeful others would follow.

If you’re sitting in first class, but don’t really need to, or if you’re in coach and see these young men and women, I challenge you to find in your heart the thing you can do for them. Offer your seat if it’s better, if you can. Offer to buy them a more substantial snack, if you can. At the very least, help make them feel welcome among us. They deserve our respect, and we shall gain theirs in return.

What can you do today, or the next time you are on a plane, to tell others you are thankful for the freedoms our troops have preserved and are willing to die for… for you.

Asa Jay

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton