I guess I am doubtful when it comes to believing in the thoughtfulness of my fellow Americans because I figured people would forget or jump up as usual the moment the "fasten seat belt" sign was turned off. But when that plane stopped at the gate, not a person stirred as the military escort stood, gathered his things, and began to walk. In fact, there was an impromptu round of applause as we acknowledged (or tried to display in some small way) our appreciation for the service of his relative.
A few people left shortly after the military escort, but many stayed aboard and looked out the windows at the large number of airport personnel with hats held over hearts. A hearse was parked near the plane along with four or five police cars. A row of uniformed people held large poles with US flags at the top that waved beautifully in the wind. Uniformed military personnel came forward and carried a flag-draped coffin to the hearse as many in the crowd held a salute. It was very touching and somber.
The experience was such a reminder of the high cost of freedom, the destruction of war, the personal sacrifices of so many.