Airports are the scenes of teary goodbyes. And for those with loved ones in the military, they are all too often the sites of farewells that become permanent ones — and homecomings that are packed with loss and grief.
We have all seen the photographs of the flag-draped coffins of soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors who have fallen in war returning to their native soil. What you may not have seen is the way that Delta Air Lines honors them when they come home.
Since 2005, the volunteers of the Delta Honor Guard have gathered to greet the remains of America's fallen heroes coming home.
According to AJC.com, the group — which operates out of Delta's hub at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport — are present whenever a veteran's remains are received. The Guard ceremonially raises the American flag and those representing the branches of military service, dipping them at 45-degree angles as the caskets exit the plane's cargo hold. They then say a short prayer and pass on a special Delta Honor Guard coin to the military escort to pass on to the deceased's next of kin. The coffin is then rolled into a transport cart that is painted red, white, and blue.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that similar groups have been formed by Delta volunteers at Boston, Norfolk, Va., and Minneapolis airports.