Standing up for the United States of America

Published 5:28 pm Monday, July 5, 2010

Daughter B.C. upon her return Father’s Day Sunday evening to reclaim her boys, waxed emotional about their experience at the Mobile airport: while they were waiting to board their plane, a flight debarked a large number of Marines who were returning from their tours in Afghanistan. When the desert-camo-clad soldiers began to file into the airport, of course they were at first enthusiastically welcomed by their wives, parents, children, and family. “There were a couple of little girls, maybe one or two, who were waving small American flags, and of course they were too young to grasp the full meaning of the situation, but when those daddies saw their little girls: very sweet! Who knows the last time they’d seen each other? One couple kept on snogging in front of the agent counter, which made me a little uncomfortable, but again, who knows? The thing was, when all the other people in the airport realized what was happening, everyone stood up and began applauding, clapping and cheering for our service men and women who were returning home! I got misty-eyed; can’t imagine how they must have felt!”

A Kairos Prison Ministry buddy of mine related a similar experience about two weeks ago when a Marine son called to tell his father that their returning plane was about an hour from the Biloxi airport – maybe it was Keesler Field? – and proclaimed, “Dad, we need you to meet the plane with 250 cheeseburgers!”

You know, Dad did that. My buddy didn’t know how many restaurants he had to hit to gather that many quickly, but I’m betting that if he told them who the burgers were for, he didn’t even have to pay a nickel for them!

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

I cannot help but harken back to my own experience, in a different war, when returning combat veterans were warned by our own Defense Department not to wear our uniforms in public places in the United States, especially big cities and West Coast airports. Thank God that we have gotten beyond that, although some of us ain’t gotten shut of the bitterness yet. Probably never will.

That’s why it is so wonderful to see on TV, or to read in papers or e-mails, the respect that is accorded to our military in this series of wars we’ve experienced in the Middle East this past decade, since the 11th of September 2001. I have been in combat, and would not wish for anyone else to have to go through that, but nowadays we have an all-volunteer armed forces, who are trained to deliver the might of the United States of America, and will do so when provoked, or ordered. Those of us who get to stay home while these young men and women take the fight to the enemy – on foreign fields – can take pride in the fact that, as of this writing, the bad guys haven’t flown any more big airplanes into any more tall buildings in America – yet. And we can thank our servicemen and women for providing that shield, sometimes at the cost of their own life and limb, tragically.

I served a tour as NBC Warfare (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) Officer on a carrier once, and it scares me that a bunch of the stuff which we were prepared to defend against back then – or deliver ourselves on an enemy, if need be – is today tee-totally unaccounted-for. There’s some bad stuff still available to the bad guys, and I’m dreading the time when that type attack may come upon the USA. If it doesn’t, it’ll be because of the folks wearing those uniforms, we can be sure of that.

None of whom make a fraction of what a pro draft choice gets for a signing bonus, nor what an even second-rate movie star gets for a trashy picture show or TV program you would be embarrassed to watch with your mother or children.

So, it made me feel good for B.C. to relate her thrill of witnessing the crowd reaction to the returning soldiers at the Mobile airport. I wish I’d been there, though I ain’t bad to fly, myownself.

The Fofa July isn’t necessarily a military holiday, just a patriotic celebration of our Independence. But we ought to remember those who stand and fight for us, and be proud that these folks can wear their uniforms coming home – and be cheered for doing that!  Bravo Zulu, Guys and Girls!