Airport travelers reduced to tears witnessing powerful tribute to 100 kids of fallen soldiers
At the busy Nashville International Airport, on Dec. 8, everyone happened to witness a heartwarming moment when travelers ground to a halt to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” in honor of a group of children whose parents were killed in combat. This emotional moment has touched the hearts of many across America.
Author and speaker Jen Tringale witnessed the moving scene as she walked out into the concourse at the Nashville International Airport.
The travelers near gate C10 stopped in their tracks as some 100 children lined up to board an American Airlines plane bound for Walt Disney World with their families as part of “The Snowball Express”—an annual program of the Gary Sinise Foundation that sponsors kids of fallen troops to an all-expenses-paid holiday.
As the military personnel saluted in sync, nearly everyone was standing with their hands over their hearts to sing the national anthem as a tribute to these Gold Star families—who were the immediate relatives of American soldiers who died in combat—before they embarked on their journey.
Snowball Express brought together 600+ families of our fallen heroes. But many more need our help. Make a gift today! https://bit.ly/2G0KfXU
“It was a beautiful moment to happen upon and witness for such a worthy cause, both to the well-being of those children and families, to the morale of patriotism, and to the over all goodness that still exists in people—especially at Christmas,” Tringale told PEOPLE.
Seeing this powerful scene unfolding in front of her very eyes, Tringale whipped out her camera to capture the moment.
I witnessed an international airport come to a complete stop today … At the Nashville airport I walked out into the concourse to this scene @americanairlines was flying a plane full of children who had lost a parent in combat, to Disneyworld on an all expenses paid trip and they threw a party for them at the gate❤️But when they announced them over the loud speaker and they lined up to board the plane the whole airport literally stopped and sang the national anthem with military present in salute. Most every person standing around, myself included was bawling at the sight of these kids and spouses who have paid so great a price for our country. To see all of this at Christmas time was so humbling. Seeing the general public in an airport stand still to honor these kids was simply beauitful. @bna_airport #nashville #fallenwarriors Gary Sinise Foundation #america #snowballexpress #christmas Garysinise
Posted by Jen Tringale on Saturday, December 8, 2018
“Most every person standing around, myself included was bawling at the sight of these kids and spouses who have paid so great a price for our country,” she wrote.
“To see all of this at Christmas time was so humbling. Seeing the general public in an airport stand still to honor these kids was simply beautiful,” she added.
The scene left Tringale and many onlookers as well as countless social media users across America teary-eyed.
The video spread like wildfire, garnering more than 2.7 million views and over 44,000 reactions.
“God Bless these Families who lost a spouse in the Military or these little children who lost a Mommy or Daddy,” one user wrote. “God Bless Our Military for Sacrificing for Our Freedom and God Bless America.”
Another remarked, “Looked like that one guy was wiping away tears! Like I am right now standing in my kitchen watching this!”
“American Airlines donated the plane and the crew donated their time to fly them. Big thank you to them,” another revealed.
Families of the fallen heroes, who were on the flight, chimed in to comment as well.
One commented, “My son and I were on this flight! I can’t begin to explain how much this means to us.”
“My children and I are a part of this group, though we flew out of Atlanta airport! So thankful for American Airlines, Snowball Express Organization, and Gary Sinise foundation for putting this on for us,” another shared. “My late husband gave his life for this country in 2015, and since then we’ve just been surrounded by love and support from so many different organizations!”
Gary Sinise, founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation, is an actor known for his role as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the movie “Forrest Gump.”
Sinise took to Twitter to share a photo of the beaming Gold Star children prior to the takeoff. The viral tweet has garnered over 26,000 reactions.
Over 1000 Gold Star Children travel w/ surviving parent, 1,750 in all, via @americanair to Disney World today as part of our @GarySiniseFound Snowball Express program. This charter left LAX this morning. I’ll join up in a few days. Have fun kids! We love you! pic.twitter.com/OfMEpVF1er
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) December 8, 2018
Tringale will never forget this touching tribute and “the sacrifice that these families had made.”
“Their sacrifice really isn’t a one time sacrifice it’s a sacrifice that they pay the price for every day,” she told NewsChannel 5.
Together, we're working to improve the lives of the men & women who protect & defend our country & communities. While we can never do enough for our defenders, veterans, first responders, & their loved ones who sacrifice alongside them, we can always do a little more. pic.twitter.com/yw0gPT0kjx
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) December 6, 2018
This Christmas, let’s promise that we shall not forget the sacrifices of the fallen soldiers and their families as we eat, drink, and make merry with family and friends.
Merry Christmas to all our Gold Star families, veterans, and serving military members. Thank you for your service and sacrifice to serve for the common good!
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