March 1, 2020
We all have things in our lives that we wish were just different. Memories of the past or situations that we wish would have turned out different. For me personally, it seems that I am continually thinking about the past and the future and have to remind myself to focus on the present moment. To focus in the moment, we all need to turn off cell phones, computers, radios and televisions. We need to look into someone’s eyes and totally focus on what they have to say and forget about what we feel we need to say. I am so mission or task oriented, it seems that I always need to do something symbolic in my own mind to bring closure to some things. I would like to share a couple of these recent events with you in my attempt to “get over it.”
SAYING GOODBYE TO PEOPLE WHO AREN’T AROUND
One of the people who greatly influenced me early in my aviation career and pretty much my entire life was Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher. I was not able to attend his memorial services so I pledged to myself that I would visit his burial site and his church in San Antonio to say my temporary goodbye. I looked high and low and could not find where he was buried. His obituary stated his church in San Antonio was Christ Episcopal Church but said nothing about where he was buried. After spending lots of time surfing the internet trying to find his burial site, I had a friend who is a Texas Ranger get on the trail. He quickly told me Herb was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. I then set off on my mission to visit Herb’s grave in Austin and then drive on to San Antonio to attend a service at his church. I got to the cemetery and was told where to find his grave but could not find it in part because it still had a temporary marker. A kind worker at in the visitor center’s office walked with me and we eventually found his gravesite. She then left me alone to say my thanks.
As I was departing the cemetery, I walked by Chris Kyle’s grave. There was a young lady and man standing at the front of Chris’ tombstone. The man had the physique of a Navy Seal and recognizable tattoos. The young man’s face was really red and my heart or spirit within me said that I needed to reach out to him as he was standing next to me. I asked the somber young man if he had served with Chris and he said he had not. I then volunteered to share with him. I told him how much Chris’ death disturbs me and that there is not a single day that I don’t think about him. How someone who served our country all over the world and then comes home and is killed trying to help someone is just wrong. I shared that Chris was killed across the road from my ranch and that my son was supposed to train with him. I told him that my “God Son” is the Texas Ranger who was the lead investigator on the case and that during the trial some of the government experts who testified in the trial visited my ranch to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the crowds. The stranger hugged me and said, “Thank you my brother.” I think at that moment this stranger helped me to “get over it” but I will never forget that Chris’ tombstone states my very own motto of “God, Country, Family.”
On Sunday, February 16, I enjoyed one of the most heart touching church services that I can recall at Christ Episcopal Church in San Antonio. Several members spoke to me and when they learned of my Herb Kelleher memory trip, I felt totally embraced. The Associate Pastor honored my request to purchase one of their used prayer books to be kept in my ranch chapel. The prayer book will join the ranks of my prayer book collection from The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Christ Church in Virginia (the church of George Washington), and St. John’s Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. that sits right across the street from the White House and is often referred to as “The President’s Church.” I think about all of the people who once held these old prayer books as I honor them.
We all have people and situations in our lives that helped make us who we are, and we are blessed for the good and even the bad experiences. What we have to remember is that we need to learn from these experiences and live in the “now” as we touch other’s lives.
We will forever miss these people and past memories but with a sigh, we move forward as we attempt to pass on those things that we have learned. I fondly and thankfully think about those mean “bosses” and teachers and the loving ones who influenced me in my life as I look back at the lessons learned. May the warrior spirit and passion never get lost.
There will never be a day that I don’t look in the sky and see a Southwest Airlines airplane and not think of Herb and Colleen Barrett or my many other former aviation friends. There will never be a day that I fail to think about my loved ones, past and present. There will never be a day that I forget those warriors at lwo Jima and countless other men and women who served our country or who have worn uniforms in the service of others, both military and nonmilitary, including my own wife, who was the first registered and certified pediatric nurse in the Dallas Fort Worth area.
May you and I learn when to “get over it” in all aspects of our lives that impact our ability to fully love and be present as we move forward with our lives and touch those around us. By the grace of God, I’m “getting over it” but never forgetting. God Bless you and our great Country!
Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.