They barely looked tired. They had so many bags. And animals. And children. They smiled and some cried and some stared. But all were welcomed home. Last night a small group of us from Chizuk Amuno went out to BWI to welcome home our servicemen and women. We have been going about once a month for the past year.
The flight we met had 357 troops on board, mostly service people but also their husbands and wives and children. They had begun their journey 36 hours earlier in Afghanistan, with stops along the way in Bagdad Iraq, Aviano Italy, Ramstein Germany and one other place I’ve forgotten until they finally arrived to us in Baltimore.
We did what we always do – we gave out goodie bags, we cheered, we shook hands, we said thank you, and we cried. Even after doing this many times I am still moved to tears when I see children reunited with their parents and parents reunited with their children after long deployments. Another parent who joined me last night said she was struck to greet these young people and realize that some of them were only five years older than her own child. It is a sobering and powerful realization.
In my tefila class yesterday we spoke about bringing our emotional selves to prayer. One woman shared that she wasn’t sure it was prayer per se, but that every day she enumerates her blessings and says thank you. Last night each thank you indeed felt like a prayer – for keeping our troops safe and bringing them home to loved ones and that all of our military personnel might one day soon enjoy that blessing.
It is a wonderful experience to greet our troops and express gratitude to them for their service to us and our country, I hope you’ll join me out at BWI another time.