If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you already know that this is the year of travel to and from India. Trip #3 began this morning from Savannah (as in Georgia and USA). Since I started this adventure last January, I have pondered the reasons why I was given this opportunity at this time in my life. My mental meanderings have included, “Why me?”, “What I am meant to learn?” and “What will I do with what comes to me from this travel and work experience on the other side of the world from mine?” I still have no clear answers.
At first I thought that this entire adventure would be about working in a totally different culture. I focused on the destination. Today it came to me that like the familiar quote on life, “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.”
Okay, to the point. I am blessed to live in Savannah, Georgia, one of the most beautiful places in the world. No bias on my part, of course. Savannah has history, architecture and environmental beauty which means beaches, rivers and marshes.
It is also is the home of Hunter Army Airfield, with one of the longest military runways in the US; and it is a short distance from Fort Stewart, home of the 3rd Infantry Division. As you come and go through the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, you have the opportunity to watch the men and women who serve our country also come and go.
Today’s arrivals and departures were particularly poignant and personal. The turn-around flight from Atlanta to Savannah was late arriving so all of us departing for Atlanta were instructed to be at the gate and ready to board as soon as the Atlanta passengers disembarked.
For fifteen minutes all of us leaving Savannah on Delta flight 1273 watched as wives and children stood patiently or itched and twitched to see their precious spouse or parent arrive. The flight yielded at least 25 dedicated service people. By the time all were reunited with their families there was not a dry eye in the boarding area.
Round two was about those embarking, most of them returning to Iraq or Afghanistan after a two-week home leave. How difficult was it for those 25 to be going in the opposite direction?
There were cheers and clapping for those who came off the plane and a silent respect for those who came on. A quiet man seated in 1A of the first class cabin stood up and gave his seat to the first soldier who boarded. What an incredible gesture he made.
We are afforded a rare moment to witness this kind of personal and private emotion. What struck me was how 100 or so people boarding a plane for Atlanta and on to who knows where were part of this experience and how they all reacted.
For once I had taken an extra pack of tissues with me. I had to purchase more once I reached Atlanta. I was privileged to be a part of this morning’s homecomings and the departures. I realized that this is a key part of my incredible journey. It is about India and another culture. It is more about the journey of life.
Safe arrivals and departures to all.
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