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4.21.2006

Words Worthy of Remembering

I was born in 1972. I think it was a good year to be born but then I have no experience with other years, so what do I really know? I'm happy being 34...I've always been happy being whatever age I am. Seems to me there's not much point in fretting about age since you can't change it.

One thing I do think I missed out on, however, is the Presidency of John F. Kennedy. I have read quite a few books on the 35th President and the world in which he lived. I find it to be a fascinating historical period and am particularly fond of his many powerful speeches. America was being re-born, I believe, during that time. For better or worse, it was a vibrant and exciting part of our somewhat short history as a nation.

Because of what Joal does for work, I collect historical quotes that have to do with America, history, freedom, patriotism, the spirit and people of America, the founding fathers, great historical moments, Presidential points and all things that seem representative of America to me. I have a small scrapbook of these little pieces of America and I add to it regularly. Joal and I have some rousing conversations about them...ongoing conversations that we both truly enjoy (or at least I do.)

So, this evening I was shopping my favorite quote site for some fresh material for my little collection when I came across this jewel:

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” ---John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Take a moment and re-read that. Don't miss it.

A few weeks ago when I flew to Atlanta, I witnessed something that illustrates just one of the the cost of our freedom in a very real way. I was sitting in the terminal waiting for my plane when I realized that there were way too many people and a crazy number of kids waiting at the gate for *my* plane. Jets to Atlanta arrive and leave about every 90 minutes from Nashville...so they are usually relatively small planes and there were way too many people at the gate for a plane this size.

I double checked to make sure I was in the right place.
I was.

I was completely puzzled until I noticed that a young woman and her three sons sitting in the chairs closest to the gate were holding small American flags. The kids were well-behaved but I could tell...those boys were hyped. (I have no problem recognizing hyped boys.) Mom was a little frayed, too. (I know that look as well.)

And then, I heard her say "Just a few more minutes, son, and Daddy will be home."

That's when I took another look around and it became obvious that the gate was filled with people waiting for the arriving flight. There was only one explanation for that because airport security no longer allows ordinary people to meet deboarding passengers at the gates.

They were Military.

Sure enough--just a few minutes later, the plane I was waiting for arrived and about 30 cammo-clad, pack-totin', boot-wearin' high 'n tight Army men emerged from it. It was a sea of green...faded green cammo.
If you've never seen an Army homecoming, you have certainly missed out. It was perhaps the sweetest thing I have ever witnessed. Shrieks of "Daddy!!!"...and lots of hugs and kisses. Kids from all parts of the gate broke free and ran full-tilt to the man they had been missing...their moms didn't bother trying to stop them. Husbands and dads and sons and brothers reunited at last with wives and mothers and fathers and daughters and sons and brothers and sisters. There were tears and laughter and I swear...I wanted to hug someone too.

It was a deep moment for me. Tears welled up in my eyes. My brother was a week from entering bootcamp and I was emotional about that, but on a deeper level, it was the perfect illustration of one of the costs of freedom that so many Americans pay willingly. I wish I had some photos to share--I know they would have been beautiful--but honestly, I wouldn't intrude that way. Those moments were just too prescious and personal. I am so happy I was able to witness them tho.
I will never forget that day.

So whatever your position on the "issues" in America--Whatever your chosen party or political leanings, I hope that you will always remember the words of the President and bear witness to the truth they declare. We owe a debt for the price that has been paid for the freedom we share and the ability that is hard-won and harder-kept to choose our own positions and speak our own minds on things that we care about.

The government sometimes seems like it's an entity of itself and is too big to moved by one person but that is simply not the case. We are our government if we choose to be. We each have a role to play in it. If you are not doing your part as a citizen of this land, someone else is going to have to carry your slack. It's your responsibility as an American to participate--not just to lay claim to her goodness and her opportunities but to share in the responsibilities of upkeeping those freedoms and liberties. Guard them. These character traits of America--freedom, liberty and justice for all have been hard won and must be protected in order to be kept.

For if they are lost, America is lost.

4 comments:

Stepnanie said...

Once again you have brought me to tears. I remember all too well waiting on a pier for my Dad's ship, always an aircraft carrier, to come in, straining my eyes to see if I could find him amoungst the 2000 or so other men, impatient watching dock workers tie the ship up, and they could never be fast enough.On that pier would be lots of others like my mom and me and my sister. All waiting to see their family member who had been gone for such a long time. It's an excitment I cannot put into words. My Dad was usually gone either 3, 6 or 9 months at a time. But I will tell you from a child's point of view, 3 months is forever! In total, in the first 11 years of my life, Dad was gone about 6 years of that. That's a lot of waiting for Daddy to come home and a lot of standing on a pier full of excitement.
Thanks again for making me remember.

Hope said...

There is nothing like a military homecoming!! It's something everyone should experience.

Kathryn said...

I've never witnessed a military homecoming. thank for sharing your experience as this really touched me. brought tears to my eyes that over flowed.

Mimi said...

I was born in 1972 as well. What a blessing you received to be there for the homecoming.