Kahau Kai, Silversword Asset Management (image)

Honor Flights During a Season of Gratitude

by Kahau Kai, Silversword Asset Management

I just got back from Milwaukee a few weeks ago. Yes. Milwaukee. Like frozen tundra Milwaukee. Like “I can’t believe a Hawaiian guy would fly there in the winter on purpose!” Milwaukee. Anyway, I was there on business and while I was there, the temperature was unusually warm. In fact is was colder in the White Mountains of Arizona, my home, than in Milwaukee. I had taken the warmest jacket I had, only to find myself carrying it as I walked around the city. That was unexpected, it was a pleasant surprise, and I was smiling.

On the day I was supposed to return, I got to the airport early. Oh-dark-thirty type of early. As I sat there, I watched the people arriving at the airport. Due to the early hour, most people were walking in with a zombie stare on their faces. They looked at their tickets, then up at the gates, then down at their tickets, then walked on. I saw some of them double back; still looking at their tickets, and at the gate signs. Others would walk in, looking desperately for a power outlet and still others were trying to balance their luggage, their phone, their water bottle and their steaming hot coffee unsuccessfully.

Then I saw a raucous group with fluorescent green matching T-shirts. There were a lot of them. At least a couple dozen. (I just now got a craving for donuts from that shoppe on the Deuce behind Cattleman’s. Anyway, back to the story.)

I wondered if the people in matching tops were a youth group because the first few that I saw were younger. Then I thought it was a tour group because the next few were older. Then I thought is was a family reunion happening because of all the smiles and hugs that were being passed around. I tried to guess. Then I heard music. A few gates from mine, I heard some youth singing, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B, like a barbershop quartet. I stood up to get a closer look. That’s when I noticed it.

An American flag was being walked into the gateway. Behind her, around her, and in front of her were men wearing baseball caps representing the war that they fought in. Vietnam. Korea. Desert Storm. Some were in wheelchairs being pushed by some of the youth in bright green. Some were hanging on tenuously to the arms of younger loved ones. And others were just walking around taking pictures and laughing. All looked eager and happy. The veterans and their fluorescent escorts.

I asked a young lady what was going on and she said that this was an honor flight. I asked her what that was and she said that Delta Airlines was taking some veterans and their companions to Washington D.C for free to visit the monuments there. She continued that she and her friends, young and old, all volunteered to help get the Veterans to the airport and on the airplanes. They’d be staying behind in Milwaukee as their honored new friends took off on their way to our nation’s capital. She graciously dismissed herself and I went back to my seat.

I just started into my book when I heard more music. I saw the group in green turn towards a spot a few gates away from mine just barely out of view. I saw a few of the veterans in wheelchairs struggling to stand. I saw some active duty personnel in uniform stand. I knew what song this was. I stood. As those young ladies and gentlemen sang in perfect harmony the anthem of the country I love, more of the people in the airport’s gates stood. Some out of curiosity, but most out of respect. That was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise, and I was smiling.

I got back to Show Low and a few days later, attended my children’s veteran’s day celebration at Nikolaus Homestead Elementary. I listened to each of my three children sing wonderful patriotic songs with their classes. I appreciated the work the teacher had put into teaching these crazy children how to sing. I appreciated her patience, and as a veteran, I appreciated the sentiment.

After the children sang and moved into their seats, the teacher asked for each veteran in the audience to come up on stage. We got there, announced our name and branch of service, and stood in the spotlight. The teacher then turned to the children who had swapped places with us in the audience, directed them to stand and they delivered a beautiful song of gratitude that caused many of my thick-skinned war torn fellow veterans to shed tears. (I won’t admit it, but my eyes struggled to remain dry.) That was unexpected, it was a pleasant surprise, and I was smiling.

I am grateful for many things; my family, my company, my workmates, my clients, my country, my God, and during this holiday season I am grateful for the extra helpings of love (along with turkey, pies, and non-alcoholic egg nog) that the season brings. May we be generous in giving love this season is my holiday wish. Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou from the Kai family! Kahau & Sara, Luana, Dougie, and Jojo. We love our White Mountain family!

Kahau Kai, AAMS, appears courtesy of Silversword Asset Management in Show Low. For more information about financial advising and investments, please call (928) 532-7900.