The men and women who have died for their country deserve the utmost respect. It’s a sacrifice that many of us are not willing to make (and don’t have to thanks to our soldiers).
So while it’s no surprise that people would go out of their way to pay respects to a fallen serviceman, what happened on a Delta Air Lines flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Atlanta on July 18, 2016 was still something truly special.
Onboard the plane was a uniformed Army private escorting home the remains of an American WWII soldier who lost his life on the battlefield in either Germany or France and who had just been identified via DNA analysis.
When the flight landed, the pilot announced that everyone should remain seated so the soldier could deplane first. And while passengers were happy to do so, something amazing happened in the process.
Also on board the flight were 60 student singers from the Iowa Ambassadors of Music group who were returning home from a concert tour of Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. They had already performed two songs for the other passengers during the long flight, but they gave one more thanks to a special request.
The flight attendants approached the choir director about the military remains on board and asked if they would help honor the soldier with a song.
“We were really honored because … in times of need, or times of struggle, people tend to go to music for comfort,” said Luke Johnson, one of the choral directors on the plane.
As the Army private deplaned, the students started singing their grande finale number – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Passengers and singers alike got choked up by the emotional moment of voices ringing out in honor of the ultimate sacrifice – it’s not the kind of gesture you expect to see on an airplane.
Diane Cupp, from Johnson City, Tennessee, was also a passenger on the plane and she got some video of the performance, which she posted to Facebook.
“It was so emotional,” Cupp told TODAY. “I was just so proud of the young people who started singing and the respect that they showed. My heart just melted.”
Cupp, a retired director of a juvenile court, and her husband Robert, a judge, were returning from a 16-day tour of World War II sites in Germany and France. That undoubtedly made the moment even more humbling.
“It melted my heart,” Cupp told the Des Moines Register. “I was so proud of them for doing that. It was so heartfelt.”
In fact, the couple wasn’t even supposed to be on the flight but now knows that having to reschedule was meant to be.
“I was on that flight for a reason,” Cupp said. “All the emotions from our trip of visiting concentration camps and a cemetery for American soldiers, I was just overwhelmed when they made the announcement about the soldier and (the choir) started singing.”
The video of the impromptu memorial has been viewed millions of times across various platforms since it was uploaded and has touched the hearts of many of those viewers.
“Faith in humanity restored. They sounded like Angels from Heaven,” said one.
It’s not often you can say that after watching a YouTube video!
Be sure to scroll down below to see Cupp’s video of the beautiful celebration of a life nobly sacrificed.
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