As my mom dropped me off curbside at Sac airport today, I spotted a wife sending her serviceman husband off. He was clearly heading to duty, as he had one of those green duffel bags soldiers always carry and he was clad in camo.
I saw them embrace, the wife having to stand on her tippy toes to reach her arms around his neck, even as he bent down to hug her goodbye.
I was probably a good 40 yards away, and as I finally reached them, pulling my suitcase behind me, I had to swallow a lump that appeared in my throat, as they were still tightly hugging one another.
Maybe I have been watching too many of those Coming Home shows, but those scenes, whether on tv or experienced in real life, always get me.
Yes, I even tear up at the Budweiser commercial where the soldier comes home to a dark house, only to find his friends and family waiting for him in a nearby barn to welcome him home.
Thanks a lot Budweiser marketing, way to ruin perfectly good eye makeup, btw.
Anyway, I happened to find myself on the same flight as this particular soldier and he was standing behind me on the jet way, waiting to board.
I turned around to him, extended my hand, and thanked him for his service. I told him there are a lot of people here at home who have a lot of respect for what he is doing for his country and it isn’t going unnoticed or unappreciated.
He smiled humbly, and simply said ‘you’re welcome.’
He asked where I was headed, and I told him. He said he was going to North Carolina but would ultimately be in Afghanistan before long.
I don’t know anything else about the soldier, but after seeing how tightly he and his wife hugged and for how long, I thought about how difficult that separation would be, not to mention the mere thought that he is risking his life. I think it may be the ultimate selfless act, to put your life on the line to defend the freedoms of people you don’t even know.
The least I could do was thank him for it.