It was morning and I just arrived into Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), a port of entry frequented by military charter aircraft returning our servicemen and servicewomen home to the United States.
My connecting flight is in Concourse E – as I arrive I see members of the US armed forces exiting the US Customs and Immigrations area along with a welcome home brigade.
Since I’m on the topic of Atlanta, Delta Air Lines, based at Hartsfield-Jackson, just unveiled a Boeing 757 as the “Spirit of Freedom” in honor of the men and women – including more than 10,000 Delta employees – who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
As I made my way up the escalator into Terminal E, I met with a group of individuals welcoming our armed forces back home. They were really into their work, but kindly took a moment to pose for the camera. Later, I learned they were airline and airport employees volunteering their own time to welcome our servicemen/women back home. The volunteers were the first faces the servicemen and servicewomen would see after exiting US Customs – at the busiest airport in the world, nonetheless.
In fact, over 2,000 military charter flights were made into Atlanta in 2012 and met by volunteers who work at the airport.
These individuals taking time from their day to volunteer for this are hero’s in my book — as to all of the charter flights and passengers, welcome home.
We’re grateful for everyone who’s served here at FlyersPulse.com – Happy Veterans Day!
Delta Air Lines Led Initiatives
Hundreds of employees along with elected officials and representatives from military organizations and Atlanta-based charities gathered at Delta’s Technical Operations Center to commemorate the christening of the “Spirit of Freedom,” which now bears a commemorative logo.
“At Delta, we have an obligation to support our employee servicemen and servicewomen, our veterans and the millions of others on active duty who fly with us each year,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “In honor of their brave acts of service, selflessness and sacrifice, we are proud to dedicate this aircraft as the ‘Spirit of Freedom.'”
The Delta Honor Guard, an employee-led initiative, opened the program. These employee volunteers administer honor guards at more than a dozen U.S. airports for fallen heroes returning home.
In July, Delta accepted the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees. The airline joins one of only 15 employers across the country and is the first airline in a decade to receive the award.
To celebrate Veterans Day, Delta plans to honor veterans with a gate celebration at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport (DCA) on November 12th and November 13th, 2012.