原题： flight turns unforgettable when passengers learn of fallen soldier
delta flight 2255 from atlanta to los angeles seemed to be an ordinary flight with the exception of candy, who was the most loving flight attendant i’ve ever encountered. besides using her southern charm to quickly defuse every situation, she began her welcome announcement by thanking the handful of uniformed soldiers on-board for serving our country. her poignant message was followed by applause, and it put into perspective that none of us would be able to do what we do without these brave men and women.
but this transcontinental flight turned out to be everything but ordinary. we later learned, when the captain got on the pa system about 45 minutes prior to landing, that we were transporting a fallen soldier. the plane went quiet as he explained that there was a military escort on-board and asked that everyone remain seated for a couple of minutes so the soldiers could get off first. he also warned us not to be alarmed if we see fire trucks since los angeles greets their fallen military with a water canon salute.
这一个横跨美洲大陆的航班注定了不平凡。在距离降落还有四十五分钟的时候，机长在广播中说：“有一位牺牲士兵的遗体今天在我们的航班上”， 那一刻大家都静下来了，听他继续： 原来今天这些士兵们是执行护送战友遗体的任务，机长要求乘客们在降落后继续保留在座位上，让士兵们先下飞机。机长同时警告大家：飞机在机场滑行时如果你看到消防车向飞机开来，请不要紧张，因为洛杉矶市的传统是用水炮向牺牲的军人致敬。
a few minutes after touchdown, we did indeed have a water canon salute, which i’d previously only experienced on happy occasions like inaugural flights. this time, the water glistening on the windowpanes looked like tears.
i was on the left side of the plane and later realized that the family could be seen off to the right, standing with the united states army honor guard. according to wikipedia, each military branch has its own honor guard, usually military in nature, and is composed of volunteers who are carefully screened. one of the primary roles for honor guards is to provide funeral honors for fallen comrades.
when the jet door opened, another military officer addressed the escort who was standing at attention. he then stepped on the plane and told us passengers “i just addressed the escort. it is a sworn oath to bring home, to the family, the fallen.” he paused and then said, “today you all did that, you are all escorts, escorts of the heart.” and then thanked us for our time and walked off the plane.
当飞机的门打开时，一位军官走进飞机，向站的笔直的护送士兵致辞，然后他走进机舱，对所有的乘客说：“我刚刚向护送士兵们致意。 这是（我们军人的）一个誓言：把牺牲的军人带回家，带回给他的家人。” 他停顿了一下，说，“今天，飞机上所有的人都是护送队伍的成员，以心来护送（牺牲的军人）”。 他最后再次感谢大家，然后下了飞机。
as you can imagine, everyone was silent and no one got up, not even that person from the back row who pretends he doesn’t [understand] english so he can be first off the plane. i’m sure most had meteor-sized lumps in their throats and tears in their eyes like i did.
it only got more emotional when i deplaned. there was a large number of passengers, who are normally in a hurry to get home or make a connection, standing by the window to witness something truly moving. to see the honor guard and family waiting patiently, while lax baggage handlers and a military loadmaster removed the flag covered casket first from the cargo hold, was humbling to say the least. i’m not sure if it was the fallen soldier’s mother or wife who i watched slowly walk up to the coffin while a few other family members, wrapped in blankets, stood near with a dozen or so of the honor guards standing in salute.
as soon as i saw her reach out to put her hand on her baby’s casket, i walked away.
this ordinary flight became extraordinary and is one that i will never forget.
thank you to all the military who protect our beautiful country and let us live the lives we are able to lead. without you we would be nothing. and thank you to the honor guard for making sure these fallen soldiers, warriors and heroes are not treated like just any piece of luggage as they used to, but rather with the care and respect they so rightly deserve.