As Americans become less religious, the role of chaplains may grow

Donna Mote regularly accompanies military personnel escorting the caskets of fallen service members through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Inter­national Airport, where she serves as a chaplain.

Mote is the first person to greet the escorts once they step off the plane. She stands shoulder to shoulder with them while an honor guard marches with flags of the five military branches. She stays with them through their layover at the airport. She’s there for support. In many cases, the escorts are grieving because they knew the deceased.

When it’s time to go, Mote helps with check-in at the departure gate, walks down the Jetway, and, once the remains have been confirmed, heads up the airplane stairs with the escorts to bid them farewell.