How I Nearly Ruined an Honor Flight Ceremony

I went to Washington, DC for work at the end of April for a day – a fly in, work, fly out kind of deal.

My flight inbound was late, and in a mad panic to get to my destination I kept misreading my directions. Cutting across five lanes of traffic. Pulling frantic u-turns, which culminated in a doozy of a turnaround in the road leading into the Pentagon. As I pulled hard on the wheel to spin myself back out, I noticed the giant “NO U-TURNS” sign and gulped nervously. Peeling down the highway, I gulped even MORE nervously thanks to a black SUV that was now in my rearview mirror. For half an hour. Thankfully, I eventually lost my tail and made it to my function.

My return home six hours later seemed uneventful enough. It was a warm, sunny day and the good people of Washington were their usual friendly selves. I entered the terminal to check in for my flight and was surprised at how quiet it was. Too quiet. Like “Was there an apocalypse and I missed the memo?” kind of quiet. No people. I checked myself in and walked through the terminal still not passing anyone, and began to feel a bit anxious.

As I breezed towards security a loud chiming of the elevators rang out and echoed across the terminal. I paused and looked as the doors opened and out spilled what felt like hundreds of seniors. Family members. Small children. Balloons. All of them sporting matching t-shirts or jackets with an airplane blazed across the back (obviously not the balloons. Balloons don’t wear clothing). I blinked in surprise and pondered internally “the HELL?” as I was engulfed by the sea of seniors and pushed towards the security gate.

As I looked around helplessly a security guard happened to pass through the line, who stared at me in scrutiny. “M’am,” he started in a gruff voice, “You’re not supposed to be here, are you?” At this point I thought, “This is my tail from the Pentagon! They found me!” and I stared back, dumbfounded. “Come with me,” he responded as I was herded away from the crowd towards a new entrance point. He spoke in almost a whisper with the guard at the scanner before I was waved forward. As I neared the scanners, he smiled warmly and invited me through the staff entrance to avoid the line-up, and wished me a happy journey.

The sigh of relief that I exhaled was massive.

I picked up my things and walked briskly to the door out to the terminal, and observed the sea of seniors slowly clearing the checkpoint. “Score one for me,” I thought as I pushed through the doors and was greeted by another even more unexpected sight. And sound.

As I cleared the doors an energetic band erupted into song with a sea of American flags. As the band members realized I was, in fact, not a large group of veterans but instead a rather-confused blonde woman the song slowly petered out, ending with an awkward symbol crash as I stopped in front of them. “Erm,” I started, looking around the group, “They’re coming.” I motioned over my shoulder to the swinging doors and awkwardly moved my way around the band as they looked on in surprise. A moment later they erupted again and the rightful recipients cheered with joy, and I smiled as I went to find a quiet corner to read.

And that’s how I nearly ruined (but thankfully didn’t) an honor flight ceremony.

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2 thoughts on “How I Nearly Ruined an Honor Flight Ceremony

  1. OH MY WORD!! That is quite the story! If this ceremony was that important and exclusive then how did you get in to the terminal – shouldn’t it have been blocked off and was there NO one else flying who wasn’t part of the ceremony?

    Hilarious!

    1. I wondered that too! The ceremony was just at one of the gates, so I guess they couldn’t block off access because of everyone else trying to fly out (there were more people in the actual terminal once I cleared the marching band). I had a hearty laugh about it after!

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