|Welcome to the
Delta Military Lounge
I’ve always believed that “it is better to give than to receive,” and I have always wanted to help people in some way, especially at Christmas. Some years, my family and I have given money to a family who is in need, some years we’ve given food for food baskets, and at least once during the season, money is dropped into the Salvation Army’s bucket.
But this year, I wanted to do something tangible—not to be seen by others, but something that required a little more of me than just writing a check or dropping a couple of ones into a bucket.
This year is the 42nd year Delta Air Lines has sponsored the Delta Air Lines Military Lounge for all military personnel, active and retired, who were passing through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. My daughter is a Delta employee and has volunteered in the lounge for the last several years. This year, I decided to join her.
|Amy, Pam & Holly –
three of the many Delta Volunteers
The Military Lounge was set up in a large conference room in the airport. It was decorated with all things military. There were military coins that had been left by Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel arranged in a glass case. Military plates hung on the wall; even the Christmas tree was decorated with military ornaments.
Movies were played back to back on the screen for the personnel’s enjoyment and Wi-Fi was free. And the food . . . I’ve never seen so much food in one place in my life, almost all of it donated by Delta employees, the rest by other corporate sponsors. The Lounge is staffed by Delta employees who volunteer their off-duty time, and by friends and family members of the employees. It is an amazing thing to see – many of the approximately 6,000 employees in Atlanta, come together for the single purpose of honoring the men and women of the Armed Forces and I was delighted to offer my small service along side these fantastic people.
The true stars of this program are, of course, the military personnel who stop by the lounge for a few minutes or a few hours, waiting for their next flight. In 2010, there were over 11,000 military personnel who visited the lounge; this year, Delta expects over 15,000 by January 4th, the last day the lounge will be open for this holiday season.
Wednesday, December 14, was graduation day at Fort Benning, Georgia and it was the first night I served. Many of the graduates and their families were in the lounge that night. Those young men (and I emphasize “young”) were so proud—proud to be graduates, proud to wear their uniform, proud to be a member of the Army. They were so respectful and polite, always answering “yes, ma’am” or “thank you, ma’am.” And they were very grateful for everything the lounge offered and the kind words and the sincere “thank you” offered by the volunteers. These young men were still innocent—not having been to a war-torn country, or participated in a battle.
On the other end of the spectrum, older, experienced active personnel and retired military personnel, sometimes with families, stopped by the lounge on the way to their next destination. They were just as respectful and polite as the young graduates. But there was a major difference. Many of these men and women had seen action—had been in the midst of battles and wars and had seen unspeakable things. For some, it showed in their posture and in their eyes. Yet, their pride in serving their country showed above all else.
These young men and women and the veterans should be our heroes and our children’s heroes. Not the actors and actresses or the sports figures who are “popular” today and not heard of tomorrow. Not the hip-hop stars or the reality TV stars, but the reality of these men and women who are willing to give up their life, if need be, for our freedom and safety.
Let me encourage you to take a few seconds and say “Thank You” anytime you see someone in a military uniform. They deserve our thanks and our respect, because they have volunteered to serve our country – to serve us – in this manner. They deserve our prayers—that every single man and woman would return home safely. May God bless each and every one of our military and may God bless America.