February 1, 2022

Like all things, there are changing seasons in our lives and that even includes holiday memories. I recently heard someone being asked, “What is your favorite holiday?” The answer was “Halloween, because you don’t have to do anything with your relatives!” If you’re single and don’t have a significant other, then Valentine’s Day might fit into the same category. I would have to say that my favorite non-religious holiday is probably Valentine’s Day because of the many fond memories that I have of that day.

When I was a kid, I fondly remember making Valentine’s Day cards out of paper lace doilies for my mother and decorating cardboard shoe boxes with a slot in them for my classmates to drop cards in for me. Luckily, I recall getting a few cards in my shoe box along with a couple of nasty notes. As I got older, Valentine’s Day meant sending flowers or giving someone one of those heart shaped boxes of chocolates. Fondly, I will never forget that many years ago Valentine’s Day meant my young wife would be making a “special” trip to Victoria’s Secret! What a wonderful surprise package; even better than the surprise you would find in a box of Cracker Jacks!

Somewhere intertwined with Valentine’s Day is the word “heart.” I am not sure when I first became aware of the word “heart,” but it has been an important word to me my entire life. I knew that my parents’ “song” was “Cuando Caliente el sol” which is about loving someone with all of your heart.  My wife Barbara and I adopted this song as ours as well. I gave Barbara a heart shaped diamond as her wedding ring. About the time we got engaged some 37 years ago, I was working with my friends at Southwest Airlines and a heart was painted on all Southwest aircraft. All these things caused me to look deeper into the word “heart.”

Did you know that there are at least 148 songs that have the word “heart” in their title? It doesn’t surprise me that throughout the Bible, the word “heart” or the root word “heart” appears over 826 times. I am not surprised because for years I have been circling the word as it appears in my daily readings. Often, I will point to the King Aerospace gold wings on my shirt and say, “It’s not the gold thread that makes our wings gold, it’s the hearts of the people who earned the right to wear them.”

Over the years I just accepted that the heart is part of Southwest Airlines’ branding. I never felt the need to research it until now. I just knew deep in my heart that Southwest embraces everything good related to the word “heart.” Because of the influence of my friends at Southwest, we at King Aerospace don’t have a corporate office, we have a “Home Office” because home is where the heart is. About forty years ago I had lunch with Bud Mantz, the man who created Southwest Airlines’ exterior paint design. He told me that since they only had four airplanes when they started, he wanted to create something noticeable that reflected the Southwest geographic area. He never said anything about the heart! Looking back, I wish that I had asked him, Herb, or Colleen! Here is what I have come to understand on my own. At Southwest, the heart symbolizes caring and taking care of others in a most personal and sincere manner. There is meaning to the colors that appear on the Southwest hearts. I learned that the warm red color represents the warmth of the Southwest hospitality and customer service. The blue represents the company’s innovative spirit and focus on always being better for whatever the future holds. The silver detail reflects the precision of the Southwest team. The sunrise yellow reminds employees that the future is bright regardless of the challenges and that the sun will always eventually rise. All these colors reflect the Southwest Team.

The King Aerospace Gold Wings truly come from the heart and the people who earned the right to wear them give from the heart. My old flip phone gives and receives calls from the heart. As Herb Kelleher once told me, “Be there with the people when they hurt and be there when they celebrate. Just be there for them.” If you’re reading this, know that Southwest Airlines might be the LUV airline, but King Aerospace is the love company based deep within the heart of Texas! If anyone tells you different, tell them promptly Mr. King says, “Bull butter!”

Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.