Sunday, March 13, 2011

Heroes

Yesterday, TLC, Hubby, my friend, CeeCee, and I went to DFW Airport to “Welcome Home a Hero!” It’s something all four of us have wanted to do for a long time—at least two years. It was everything we imagined—and more.

First, let me tell you a little bit about CeeCee. We’ve known each other since 1977. She’s an amazing lady:  beautiful, smart, funny, and unbelievably creative in so many areas. She is an accomplished seamstress. She’s a FANTASTIC cook. She’s an unofficial interior decorator that’s as good as anyone you see on HGTV. She’s a great Mom and Grammy. It is a privilege to be able to call her my friend. I’ve threatened, for at least 25 years, to write her name on the ballot for President of the United States. I’m serious. She’s as strong and wise and fair as any leader I’ve ever supported.

Okay, so back to the Wonderful Day we had:  Please check out the website:  www.dfwairport.com/heroes. You’re given all the information you need to become part of the volunteers welcoming our troops home for R&R. At least one flight per day arrives at DFW. They list the phone number to call to verify the flight times.

We had planned to meet TLC at the Terminal at 11:30 a.m. The flight was to land at 12:15. As CeeCee, Hubby and I started to leave (we live about an hour and a half away), I called, again, and learned the flight had been delayed to 1:30. We quickly arranged to meet TLC at Tolbert’s Restaurant in Grapevine at 11:30. That would give us plenty of time to have lunch and then get to the airport for our first “Welcome.” As we finished lunch, TLC called the number and learned the flight had been changed, again. Now it would be 2:30. We enjoyed a stroll down Main Street in Grapevine, with its unique and charming shops. (I tell you all of these details so when YOU plan to have your own experience as a “Welcomer,” you’ll be prepared to be FLEXIBLE and patient. It’s the airport. We all know those two attributes are always necessary when dealing with flying, right?)

When we got there at 2:00 and walked into the gate area, we were immediately touched by all of the signs displayed—signs made by school children, families, friends and many different groups. There were lots of American flags you could borrow to wave as the troops came through the gate (we’d brought four of our own and left them for others to use). We were greeted by two delightful men volunteers (there were several other volunteers and officials who were there and who do this many times a week). They answered all of our questions and shared the history of this program and their experiences with it.

At 2:30, Hubby learned that the plane had been delayed even longer, and it would now be 3:30. We found out there were 294 men and women on the plane that we would be “welcoming home.” We watched the families and friends of these American heroes with such joy and admiration. They, too, make so many sacrifices. One of the volunteers told us about the soldier arriving who would be seeing his daughter for the first time. Just typing this makes me tear up and smile.

Finally, at about 3:50, the families that were at the front of the line and close to where the troops were coming through the gate started clapping and cheering. We got goose bumps and lumps in our throats. Here came the first Army Colonel—big smile on his face and a bounce to his steps. The next hour was spent watching those 293 others walk out, looking happy, tired, relieved, hopeful, excited. We cheered the entire time. We clapped. We smiled. We cried. We laughed. We thanked the men and women. We got to shake some of their hands. My Hubby’s “Welcome Home”—said at least 150 times—was music to my ears. TLC and I found ourselves being tickled by his sincere enthusiasm. When the soldier seeing his new baby girl for the first time and his wife and family walked by us, I thought we were all four going to completely lose control of our emotions. The look on his face was priceless and something we won’t soon forget.

image via TLC's iPhone of CeeCee and ELC proudly waving their flags

image via TLC's iPhone

As tired as our feet were (and we had gotten pretty hot, too!), we didn’t want the experience to end. We knew we would stay overwhelmed with memories of this afternoon and the incredible feelings we had shared for a very long time. We have plans to go again soon—hopefully Memorial Day weekend. Definitely by July 4th. Our goal is to do this at least three more times before the end of 2011.

If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I urge you to enjoy this experience—at least once. If you live in other parts of Texas or our country, please make an effort to see if this is something the airport and/or USO in your neck of the woods does for our Heroes. Take your kids, your grandkids, your family members and friends. Encourage a service organization or Sunday School class to go, as a group, to honor these brave women and men. It will remind each of y’all how lucky we are to live in America—how lucky we are to have unbelievably unselfish Heroes doing everything they can to protect our freedoms.

I want to dedicate this post to two of my nephews—my brother’s sons—who both went on two tours each to Iraq. They’re out of the Marines now, but our family will always be proud of their courage and service. Josh and Matt, we heart you!!!

God Bless America!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh ELC...you have such a way of describing things. What you were saying about our day was absolutely correct! I am still on a natural high from that day. I am so amazed that we got to see 294 Heroes all in one day! Please, anyone reading your blog...ignore paragraph 2...ELC has a tendancy to exaggerate some things but she didn't exaggerate the description of our day. Thanks to TLC, ELC and ELC's Hubby we had the best day ever!

The Leightons said...

Silly CeeCee--no one should ignore the second paragraph! I didn't even do justice to all the fabulous gifts you have. Truly.

It was definitely a day we won't forget and we were so glad you were with us!

ELC