My Mom took this picture when she and Dad went with several hundreds of fans and friends to greet a group of 3 buses full of our U.S. Armed Forces last week as they came home from Iraq! This picture made me bawl my eyes out because I could have gone and forgot all about it until it was too late to make it in time to greet them. Oh, how I cried! I just wish I could have have a little bird inside of my head chirping at me to remind me. I love our soldiers, our men and women both who are dedicated, loving, and honorable - their love for you, for me, their country, and their sense of self and duty make me well up with pride to the point of crying just because I see digital green at the supermarket. I feel compelled to shake the hand of every single soldier I run across these days - please, forgive my complete ignorance for not making it to the station in time to see you arrive!
When our Oklahoma troops come home, and I'm sure it's the same absolutely everywhere across our great nation, we have parades. This was a meaningful, memory-filled evening as our men and women not only flew into the airport and were greeted along the tarmac fence by thousands of our neighbors - they then loaded up into buses and drove the short 10 miles to the closest base - Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City. Along Air Depot stood thousands more of our families and friends, waving flags, bearing gifts, standing on top of each other trying to get the first glimpse of what we all know to be the best, the bravest, the battle-ready, battle fighting soldiers of the United States Armed Forces. This group was fully represented by every branch!
What you can't quite see in this picture are the drops of water falling off the soldiers - as their buses were coming down Air Depot, the Midwest City Fire Department had lined up several trucks with spraying hoses literally showing them as they came into town! What a sight! Before they arrived, and after they arrived as well, dozens of fire departments from our entire state, any and every country represented by a soldier coming home, paraded their own fire trucks, rescue trucks, police and ambulances - dressed in banners, sirens blaring, horns honking - loudness raining off over the air - just to say THANK YOU!!! We truly, truly, love our soldiers, and I know every other state in our fine union does as well. (and they should!)
Keeping back the tears just writing this blog is impossible - not only because of my self blunder in forgetting the most memorable of moments, but because I dream of the day I'll stand in the line, screaming at the top of my lungs for the ONE soldier that just presses a little closer to my own personal heart - to know that lawn-chair waiting, flag-waving, siren-screaming friends and loved ones will honor him when he makes that trip back to my arms.
This event was made even MORE special because the Veterans of every other war and conflict were a part of the procession. Motorcycled veterans, walking veterans, float-riding, and open-car carried veterans wearing pieces of their original uniforms, hats, and berets - all being given the support and thanks they deserved so very long ago - perhaps some of them feeling the gratitude for the very first time after returning from Viet Nam - I want to hug them all - and in my heart, in my soul, in my dreams - I do. WELCOME HOME! WELCOME HOME!