I am a loud talker. Whether it is on the phone or in a meeting, you can hear me a mile away. A few times while making calls in the airport, some folks have given me a look or even motioned for me to lower my voice. A few weeks ago, while waiting to leave Tulsa, I was on the phone with Tricia, animated and agitated about something, when I noticed the person across from me look up, stand, and move toward the window overlooking the tarmac. “A little too loud Dan,” I thought. Then I noticed another person do the same, and another. Soon I was aware that the only sound in the terminal was that of my own voice. I looked out the window and told my wife I’d call her back. A military escort was meeting a plane on the tarmac. A grieving family watched as those in uniform carried the flag-draped casket of their loved one to the hearse that was waiting. No one in the terminal spoke, no announcements were made, no one rushed to baggage claim or to catch a connecting flight. Everyone in Terminal A just stood in their place, in silence, and watched until the car left. There were a half a dozen servicemen in the terminal standing with us. The recognition of sacrifice was universal and profound.
The experience has stayed with me for the last month. Not coming from a military family, I have thought about how I understand sacrifice. Yes, I sacrifice for my family and at times I may believe I sacrifice for the Church, but I don’t understand sacrifice in the same way as our service members and their families do. They are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice not just for those they love, but for those they don’t even know. They are willing to die for so many like me, who will most likely never have to experience that type of sacrifice, because they did. In that sense, they come so much closer to understanding the sacrifice our Lord made for us. And yet, despite that great price, for the servicemen standing inside the terminal with us, I sensed a great freedom within them. As a Catholic leader, do I seek the freedom that comes from “allowing Him to lead me” despite the sacrifice? While we seek greater freedom through deeper discipleship, we thank the Lord for those who defend our freedom to know, love, and serve Him in this country.