Today, on Facebook, I clicked on a link to this story. The story of a family, at the worst time of their life, witnessing the true callousness of the American traveling public. The story of the family of Lance Cpl. Justin Wilson, who had flown to the East Coast to welcome the body of their loved one at Dover. The story of the family who were trying to get home, to bury that 24 year old, a newly wed, who had been killed in Afghanistan. The story of the truly reprehensible conduct of a group of travelers, who sat in silence when asked to give up their seats so they could get home. The story of the ground crew that had to beg, with tears in their voices, for 3 more people to give up their seats so the 6 members of the family, standing in front of them all with their grief apparent, could get home.
I should, I suppose, be used to this by now. Eight years into two wars, with reports of "compassion fatigue", with comments to letters to the editor, or articles in magazines, that tell military families to just shut up, suck it up, quit whining, stop expecting everything for free, I should expect that the "others" won't do the right thing in that situation. After all, I just read a retired military officer in a respected military group publication, say just that!
But this. This horrified me, and I don't understand the people that could sit in silence and actually LOOK at the grieving family, who had to endure the stares and sliding sideways glances. HOW? HOW do Americans NOT stand up en masse and volunteer? The author, Colleen Getz, tried to excuse the other passengers, saying they were caught off guard. Off Guard? Do Americans need to be prepared to do the right thing? Are we so consumed with our own lives, so inured to the pain going on in front of us, that we just refuse to react to it?
I talked to my husband about it, and he gave me that look, and said "they don't WANT to know. They don't want to see it, they don't care anymore."
I guess the flag waving is over, the "support the troops" yellow ribbons on the backs of cars have faded into pale cream with unreadable faint letters, the flags on the houses have become tatty and shredded and been replaced with butterfly banners - at least for them. The them that could sit and stare at that family, stone faced, and refuse to give up their seats; the them that get angry when another funeral procession ties up traffic; the them that want to know why so much money is being spent on military health care, or get angry about subsidized child care. But we , the One Percenters, WE understand. We are tired too, but I know that each and every one of us would have given up our seats. Right? I sure hope I'm right.