It is dispiriting to see the rioting, looting, and violence occurring in major cities across America, and that feeling is exacerbated by the relaxed attitudes of the so-called leaders of these communities who allow the destruction to happen with very little effort to stop it or penalize those responsible.
It’s anti-American behavior. And the leaders, by their dismissiveness, are promoting an anti-American sentiment.
That’s what made Saturday’s bold and unexpected display of patriotism at Denver International Airport even more special.
Vietnam War veteran Harvey “Barney” Barnum, a Medal of Honor recipient, was honored by a group of active U.S. military members as he disembarked from a plane.
The Marines weren’t alone. Travelers, their curiosity piqued by the group of Marines lined up in dress blue uniforms, stopped and asked what was going on.
One Marine explained that the group was honoring a Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War.
Because there are so few of these people left, he said, the Marines try to greet them whenever one arrives in Denver.
One of the greatest parts the ceremony was how quiet it got as people neared the gate.
Many stopped. Some placed their hands on their chests. There was a feeling of reverence.
When the 80-year-old Barnum — who had a brisk, authoritative step — walked down the rampway, it got even quieter.
There were those on the moving sidewalk who started walking backwards so they didn’t miss it.
Barnum, accompanied by his wife, left the rampway, entered the airport, and offered a crisp salute, which was was immediately returned.
It was pin-drop quiet. Time froze. There weren’t a lot of dry eyes.
The veteran shook hands with the greeters, thanked them, and began walking away.
The crowd, which had expanded to hundreds now, applauded and cheered as he walked away.
Did the crowd know who they were applauding? Most likely did not.
Did the crowd know why this American hero received the Medal of Honor? Most likely did not. (Everyone should read his story).
The crowd stopped and applauded anyway.
This should give all of us hope that despite the actions by groups of criminals in major cities and the leaders who seem to endorse the lawlessness, most Americans yearn for something better and will stop and applaud that something better — even if they don’t know what or who it is.