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Southwest Airlines Community

A Personal Look at Veteran's Day

At a recent meeting of Southwest's Culture Committee, I watched a presentation on our "Share the Spirit" initiative. During  a month-long, Companywide drive, Southwest Airlines Employees donated toiletries, socks, sunscreen, candy, powdered drinks and other items, packaged into individual "LUV Rations" goodie bags with handwritten postcards, for more than 1,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. My fellow Culture Committee members and I were moved almost to tears as the Team captains of Share the Spirit showed videos of our Employees sending off the packages and showed pictures of their delivery to Bahrain. I was proud to know that our Company--which includes hundreds of current and former members of the military--had rallied to do that for our troops abroad. It makes me even more proud to know that on June 28, our Company saluted the many veterans who work for Southwest with a VIP, red-carpet event at our Dallas headquarters. To celebrate the delivery of our 500th plane, three dozen of the Company's war veterans and their guests flew to Seattle for a private tour of the...then brought the plane home to a heartfelt celebration. I was deeply touched to hear that as our Freedom Fighters deplaned amid cheers, several who had served in Vietnam remarked that it was the homecoming they had never received. Ironically, June 28 is my birthday-- although growing up, I never knew that. When I was three-years old, I was airlifted out of Vietnam with my ten-year-old brother. We were adopted by a retired Navy captain and his family, and we grew up in peace and prosperity, unlike most Vietnamese who were unable to escape after the war. When I graduated from college, my husband and I returned to Vietnam and, miraculously, managed to find my long-lost relatives. From them, I learned that although I'd grown up celebrating my birthday on October 20, a date that was invented for me in a refugee camp because I had no birth certificate, I was actually born in June. Even more ironically, on October 20 - my legal birthday--I was back in Vietnamkim-vietnam-trip.JPG with a small group of Southwest colleagues for another very special celebration. Earlier this year, Southwest launched our "Giving LUV, Saving Lives" campaign in partnership with the East Meets West Foundation of Oakland.  kim-vietnam-staff.JPGEast Meets West is one of the largest non-governmental organizations working in Vietnam, and its Operation Healthy Heart program provides corrective surgery for children with heart defects. Since 1994, the program has provided life-saving assistance to more than 1,200 Vietnamese children, but thousands more every year need such Through our partnership with East Meets West, Southwest has helped make possible critical heart surgeries for at least ten children. Southwest, of course, is the LUV airline, and to me, this is the definition of love! In October, my Southwest colleagues and our families made the journey to Vietnam to meet the children we've helped save. I can't think of a better birthday It's intensely gratifying for me to be a part of giving new life to another generation of Vietnamese children, as I was given a new life.  It makes me proud to be an American and to work for a Company that cares to make a difference beyond our borders.    And I'm proud to work for a Company that honors those who've fought, and continue to fight, for our country. Because of veterans like those Southwest recognized, and because of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms, I'm able to celebrate two birthdays-- and to write this piece today.