Posted August 31, 2009
HUG A SOLDIER
These days, while waiting in an airport for someone to land or take off, I have more time to people watch and spot celebrities. Here lately, I've been seeing more and more soldiers coming and going in their battle fatigues - backpacks bulging.
While I observed a group of soldiers, I longed to talk to the women in the group. I wanted to ask them if they had children at home. I couldn't get up enough nerve to interrupt their conversations, so I stayed silent. Then Little Richard whisked by within six feet of my rocking chair. He wore a red silk suit "to die for." My signature color. He rested nearby and his entourage materialized. People stopped what they were doing to watch the famous celebrity.
A couple of days later, back at the airport, I watched more and more military men and women as they grabbed a bite to eat. One young woman walked towards the security check-in, her husband's hand patting her on the back. The back of his T-shirt read, "Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." Below, in parenthesis and in small print, it read, "because I'm the baddest mother f#$%#$% in the valley." I wondered if he knew that King David was a warrior too - if he even knew where to find the Bible passage - minus the parenthetical quip. And did he know the verse was about Big Time Backup?
When he came back by, I caught up with him and said, "Are you in the armed forces too? I saw you with your wife and read the back of your T-shirt."
With confidence, he grinned. "Yes. I am."
"Does it bother you - your wife is being deployed before you?"
His mouth tightened and his eyes misted over. I thought his lips would tremble before he replied. "Yes. It does. She's a nurse. She won't be in the hot spots I'm in. But it does worry me."
I thanked him for the job he and his wife were doing, keeping our country safe and free. He smiled again. "Your welcome."
I glanced up and noticed waiting soldiers napped or stood in huddles on the second floor of the waiting area, giving the nice comfortable chairs below to civilians like me. It reminded me of my Dad giving a woman his train seat after returning from four years of fighting in WWII. He held onto a loop hanging from the ceiling and laid his head across his arm to sleep. His body worn out and emaciated, he rode all day - standing - to get back home once he landed in the States.
I walked my daughter to security check in. I wiped the mist from my own eyes. She wasn't leaving home to fight a war. I would still miss her. I'd worry about her plane landing safely. The engine on her flight in had had problems and had to circle back to the airport. I couldn't imagine the other moms putting their daughters on planes headed for a war torn country.
When I exited the airport terminal, another young female soldier stood beyond the door, waiting. I asked, "Where are you headed?"
I teared up again. She smiled. I said, "Let me give you a hug." I wrapped my arms around her, back pack and all. "Thank you, honey."
As I sniffled my way to the car I thought, There's no crowd of people watching our soldiers come and go. They're not famous, nor celebrities but they're wearing clothes "to die for." They're heroes just the same, leaving for war while so many sit at home and enjoy air conditioning and other luxuries. They don't intentionally wear red suits if they can help it. Even though their tan camo fatigues may be red before long, there was no one curious about the comings and goings of a soldier except maybe for family. Though they didn't sing "Tutti Fruti," "Long Tall Sally", or "Good Golly Miss Molly" nor claim to be "king" of anything, much less Rock N' Roll, they were heroes for just boarding the planes to begin their mission. One long concert with no applause. And more than roses and love notes being thrown on stage.
But where was their idolizing entourage? Where were their adoring fans? Why wasn't anyone asking for an autograph or standing in line to watch the casket pass for those who didn't make it back in one piece? Where was their media coverage and newscasters to gloss over their sins to keep them from becoming infamous?
Next time you see one, hug a soldier. I think I'll go out and buy an autograph book.