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Tomorrow is a very special day. It is a day for taking a moment and honoring those who have or are serving our nation in the armed forces. Men and women who protect not only our freedoms, but the freedom of others around the world, any time “Uncle Sam” calls.
Our family has a history of people who have served.
My side of the family isn’t the only side who has a history of veterans.
And the tradition went much further back than you might imagine. These are some of my mother-in-law’s family. Note the civil war jacket on the man in the back.
Last week, my boys and I headed out to the Huntsville airport and joined many others in honoring our veterans as well.
There was a group of wounded warrior veterans who were flown in for a special event here in town. Crowds of people greeted them at both the airport and the hotel where they were staying. We arrived at the airport twenty minutes before the first plane was supposed to arrive. Everyone was excited to be there.
The plane ended up being delayed by nearly an hour. No one complained or griped. We just waited, chatted and looked forward to their arrival.
The band from Redstone Arsenal played for the crowd as we waited.
Big and small, young and old – we were all there to honor the men and women for Heroes Week.
CSM Ross came through thanking people for coming – and for their service.
And then it was time. The plane had landed. The paparazzi had the cameras ready – treating the veterans like the stars they are.
I watched as the veterans came through the gate. As they entered, there was the initial shock, laughter and joy. They had no idea such a crowd had come to honor them and welcome them to town.
Looking around the airport, many of the members of the welcoming committee were Vietnam veterans. I wondered how many of them should have received welcomes like this when they came home. How many of them had been simply ignored, or worse – treated with disdain and hatred in a season of turmoil?
Later as I went through the photos that I took that sunny afternoon, I was deeply moved by the raw emotion that I saw on people’s faces.
This man in particular – I don’t know his name or his story. But as I saw him in the series of photos I took, I watched his face go from surprise, to shock to raw emotion. Watching his face through the progression of photos I wondered what he was thinking. Was he happy about the welcome? Was he thinking of his friends that should have been there? Was he thinking about the last time he came home with his military companions – and thinking of how different it was that time? I don’t know. But I could barely get through the rest of my photos after seeing his reaction. It was all I could do not to let the tears fall on my keyboard.
I’m glad that my boys were able to experience what happened that day. It meant as much to me as I’m sure it did to the veterans who received the red carpet treatment.
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. I ask you that if you see a veteran – shake his hand. Tell her you appreciate what she has done. And please, don’t limit it to one day a year.
Our nation wouldn’t be what it is without them,
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.