Cheers All The Way Around

By: Jeff Katz – January, 2017

I recently was flying from Boston to Richmond, Virginia. My early morning travel started on the wrong foot when I realized that I had left my phone in the car and The Bride had driven off with it. My fault entirely to be sure, but I was frantic trying to figure out how I would get it back. I ran after the minivan but no dice. I ran through Logan frantically looking for a payphone and then realized that I had no change in my pocket because after all, who the heck uses payphones anymore? Finally, I found a JetBlue team member who invited me to use the phone in his office. I made the call; The Bride returned and handed my phone off to a Massachusetts State Police Trooper who passed it on to me. I expressed my gratitude to the Trooper who sort of shrugged, smiled and said “happy to help”.

Now my trip was really ready to go. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts, got some breakfast and had a very easy walk thru the TSA checkpoint. So far, so good. Down to Gate C34 I went and I found myself surrounded by countless young men and women, all of whom were wearing the uniform of the United States Army. Some were on their cell phones, some were chatting with each other, and some were taking naps.

These soldiers were headed to Fort Lee, an Army base just outside of Richmond. I honestly questioned whether all of the guys really needed to shave every day, that’s how young they looked. I found myself thinking that if I had run in to these young ladies wearing lacrosse uniforms instead of fatigues I would not have been the least bit surprised, because that’s how young they looked.

The JetBlue gate agent took to the microphone and pointed out that we had a lot of American heroes in our midst and asked everyone to give them a round of applause. We all showered these fine young men and women with a thunderous ovation. It was interesting to look at the responses on the faces of the soldiers though. Some broke in to big ear to ear smiles, some seemed embarrassed and some of the others did not know they were being cheered at all because they still had headphones plugged into their phones.

Once on board, our JetBlue flight attendant warned us that it was a full flight and that space for baggage would be tight. She reminded us that it would be a quick one hour and twenty minute flight and then she announced that about half of our flight was comprised of active duty service members. She urged each of us to let them know how much we appreciated them. I’m happy to say that just about everyone clapped for our soldiers.

Personally, I was grateful that I had gotten my phone back in time to make my flight. I appreciated the fact that my journey through the TSA line was pretty easy. But I was most thankful that young men and women who could have easily chosen to do something else, had decided to join the U.S. Army and stand on guard for my children. Safe travels!

Jeff Katz is a former police officer. Hehas won multiple Associated Press awards as Best Talk Show Host. He can be heard on iHeartRadio’s Jeff Katz channel.