Having a spouse or family member in the military can be a hard thing. It’s a balance between constant worry in the background and handling everything that life throws day by day…alone. While other family may be around to help out with the kids or the chores or the errands, the fact that the person is simply away is enough to make life difficult. It all becomes even harder if there are kids involved. They want to know why their mom is gone, or why uncle Joe isn’t coming for the holidays. So when these soldiers realized that they could do something to help this family, they jumped on the chance!
Last week I was in Atlanta, Georgia attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me begin to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen. Moving through the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camos. As they began heading to their gate, everyone abruptly rose to their feet with their hands waving and cheering. When I saw the thirty or forty soldiers being applauded and cheered for, it hit me. I’m not alone. I’m not the only red-blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families.
Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line every day for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear of reprisal.
Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our service men and women, a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old ran up to one of the male soldiers. He kneeled down and said, “Hi…”
The little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her…
The young soldier, who didn’t look any older than 22 years, said he would try and asked what she wanted to give to her daddy. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster, and then kissed him on the cheek.
The mother of the little girl, who said her daughter’s name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter Courtney missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up.
When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second… Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military-looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it.
After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said, “I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you.” He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying, “Your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon.”
The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet, he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than 6 feet away from this entire event.
As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier, in one last act of selflessness, turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.
He was so young, but so incredibly old at the same time. He might even have a family of his own waiting for him. This little girl might have reminded him of his own. Whoever this family was waiting for at the airport is lucky to be related to such a sweet child! I hope that they really did find this girl’s dad, but if it was all for show, that’s okay, too. Regardless, it made her day 🙂
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