Brisk autumn air, blue skies and fading fall colors welcomed soldiers home to Fort Richardson from Afghanistan Thursday afternoon. And wives, mothers, fathers, children and siblings stood before them, or sat in the bleachers waiting for them to arrive in blue buses, walk into formation, be saluted and dismissed by their company commander, to the tune of a variety of military tunes played by fellow soldiers in the orchestra section.
I watched as wives in high heels, babies on their hips, children holding their hand made their way through the mob of soldiers looking for their special someone. Some of the men in this troop were seeing tiny babies for the first time, others, taking 6 – 8 month old babies in their arms, holding their children, born during the deployment for the first time in their own arms. Still others tried to surround a selection of children who had survived the deployment without Daddy. All, while wives wrapped their arms around their man’s neck and welcomed him home.
The daughter of a soldier, born long after he returned from service in Korea, I didn’t experience this as a child. Married to a soldier after he’d returned from his stint in the Navy, I didn’t experience this as a married woman. Only now, as a mother-in-law, am I experiencing the incredible joy of my soldier boy, my daughter’s soldier husband, and my grandson’s soldier father, coming home. I can tell you, I had tears in my eyes as I watched the greetings, enjoyed the making of memories and captured a few memories of my own.
One young father took his sleeping baby girl, just three months old in his arms and buried his face in her dress, tears soaking through as sobs of joy and the realization of missed hours drenched his face. While he held his baby, his wife remained wrapped in his arm, never looking up, the joy of her own tears at seeing him for the first time in ten months soaking through his jacket.
These moments cannot be taken back, this time cannot be experienced again. These men, many of them not old enough to be recognized as adults, carried guns, walked streets in fear for their lives, working to do the jobs they were called to do, and yet… they’re labeled as terrorists by the country they serve. Many who live in freedom celebrate the cause of justice, yet would have these men arrested because they stood on holy ground and fought for what they believed, specifically for our right to say and do as we see fit. How can this be?
Why would our nation, their nation, the nation we call home, label these men and women as terrorists, when they’ve been out fighting for our freedom and liberty?
The stand we take as a nation, as the people in this nation for whom they fight, will determine the freedom we experience to own businesses, speak our minds, publicly gather to worship, or to gather for other reasons. So, people, what are we going to do? Are we going to speak up and hold our national leaders accountable by our vote on November 6th? Or are we going to let these men and women give up their time and their effort with family for nothing. For no reason?
At the same time these soldiers were arriving home, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan faced off in a debate where Biden laughed like a hyena at the issues that face our politicians and our soldiers. They weren’t laughing at the topics and few if any found Joe Biden to be funny.
Welcome home soldier — to the land of the free and the home of the brave.