Bright Lights to Lightning Bugs

Bright Lights to Lightning Bugs
Bright Lights to Lightning Bugs

Fifteen years ago my boys and I were standing in a terminal at Dallas Fort Worth Airport waiting on an airplane. The passengers were strangers to us, but they were also heroes. We made the trek to the airport to participate in the program Welcome Home A Hero. For those who don’t recognize this program, it allows people to stand in a row at a commercial airport as military personnel exit from their flight. If I asked my boys what they remember from that trip to the airport, they would probably shake their heads. But that day is a memory I have revisited more times than I can possibly count. But let’s start at the beginning.

The boys dressed in their Cub Scout uniforms and dutifully carried their poster boards to the car and we headed to the airport. None of us were certain what to expect but I described the sacrifice these heroes had made to be away from their families and serve our country. I am sure the boys at 8 and 5 could not imagine leaving their family.

We arrived at the designated airport gate and stood beside the small crowd already gathered. I was excited and nervous so to calm my emotions I struck up a conversation with the woman standing beside me. I introduced the boys and myself, explained they were Cub Scouts and were participating in Welcome Home A Hero for their Scout pack. The woman’s face lit up and she thanked us. She said her son was on the plane, and she was also welcoming home a hero…her hero.

The woman explained her son had been stationed in Afghanistan for the last 2 years. The news at that time was full of stories detailing supply trucks being destroyed by IED’s (Improvised Explosive Device) hidden in the roads frequented by the military. I could see the concern in her voice as she described his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) as driving a supply truck for his unit. I started to empathize with this woman as I heard her story and imagined sending one of my own boys off to serve his country. I looked at my now seemingly small and fragile children and just could not fathom letting them leave our great country to be possibly killed or maimed in the name of democracy. I thought to myself “Nope-not gonna happen!” My kids were going to work at desk jobs in front of computers. They were going to be engineers or accountants-something safe that wouldn’t keep their mama up all night running scenarios through her head.

I asked this brave woman, my new hero, what was she going to do when she saw her son turn the corner and walk down the hallway? She thought a moment and honestly answered “I really don’t know.” We chatted a bit more and then we saw figures coming into sight… (To be continued in the 10/28/21 edition of The Enterprise.)

Rate this article: 
No votes yet