Yesterday I flew back to Indianapolis on a high from the Kansas Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Annual Meeting.  I consider airplanes to be a refuge to either get a lot of work done or sleep, so I’m not always in tune with my fellow passengers. However, I  did notice  a soldier in first class when I got on the plane. I usually stop to say thanks to soldiers, but he was trying to read a book and his legs were visibly shaking – so I didn’t bother him.

During our approach to IND, the flight attendant announced that our plane was carrying 21 soldiers returning home from the Middle East. More of their story is here. As the plane broke out in applause, I realized the soldier with shaking legs had likely experienced trauma that I could only imagine.  It was a moving reminder that we often forget about people serving in military. And I’m as guilty of  ‘out of sight, out of mind’ as the next person.

It seemed like the plane should have let all of the soldiers off first, but that didn’t happen. By the time I was up the jetway, there was a handful of soldiers waiting for the rest of their unit. I did manage to get out an emotional ‘thank you’ to the small group and went on my way.  As I exited the security area into the main concourse, the energy level was fervent with families awaiting their loved ones.  There were little children jumping excitedly about, wives who had held down the home fronts, parents with relief clearly etched into their face and friends anticipating the soldiers.  I had never seen a full military homecoming, but didn’t want to interfere, so I continued toward the exit. I should have stayed.  While still on the escalator, I was moved to tears by the heartwarming round of cheers that rose over the airport – a glimpse at the very human sacrifices of service.

It hit me then that we often don’t truly appreciate the sacrifices made for our country and well-being unless those circumstances have directly affected our own life. I’ve never had an immediate family member be in the military, but I’ve interfaced with enough soldiers at airports to get a sense of why they do what they do. Their sacrifice of life, family and home is something we should all keep in mind – and thank every solider we see. I believe it’s about honoring the people – regardless of your position on military activities around the world.

The same can be said for honoring people who produce our food, regardless of your political position or viewpoints on conventional vs. organic, biotechnology or not, small vs. large. Farmers are providing a service that is vital to our national security (don’t eat for a day to learn how we’d do without food). While I’d never suggest farming is as traumatic as warfare or even that the risks are as great, I do see a lot of parallels.

  • Taken for granted; out of sight, out of mind.
  • Under-appreciated unless directly involved in your life
  • Scrutinized for actions out of their control
  • Reported with great bias in the mainstream media

Please don’t forget the unsung heroes in your life. Our society relies deeply on forgotten sectors interwoven into our fabric, such as soldiers and farmers. I’d like to thank  those people today and hope that you’ll join me in gratitude.