Now, I must tell you all something – this story I am about to uncork on this site is purely coincidence. I’ve been on a bit of kick lately with the whole Band of Brothers/World War II thing, so that’s been on my mind quite a bit. Now…..the story.
I walked off the plane last night about 8:15pm in Boston, tired from a few days in NYC, quite hungry and ready to get home. You know how they don’t let people wait for you at the gate anymore? They make everyone wait just past the security area. So anyway, we all de-planed and I turn the corner and there’s a horde of people waiting, clutching signs, holding hands and looking genuinely excited. There’s also a TV camera with it’s lights on (Channel 5 news, for you locals). So I’m wondering just what the heck is going on here and as I get closer, I notice that a young child has made a sign with the American flag drawn on it, awkwardly in child-like penmanship and art. Very cute. I decide to stick around, because it’s clear a military veteran is coming home from Iraq and his family and friends are here to welcome him.
So I yank out my camera, because hell, if this family is letting channel 5 broadcast this, they’re not gonna mind if I snap a photo, right? Right. Anyway, after about 2 minutes, the crowd breaks out into complete, utter hysterics because they now have him in their sights. What transpired was one of the more emotional scenes I’ve witnessed in person in my whole life. The mother and son literally ran into each others arms, laughing, crying and holding on for dear, dear life. The soldier, who couldn’t have been more than 23 or 24 years old, then made the rounds, hugging everyone, joking with friends, patting kids on the head (probably nieces, nephews, etc). Then he hugged his father. This wasn’t as hysterical as the mother/son embrace, but it was as powerful a moment as you’ll ever see. A very quiet, long hug and you could see both their shoulders shaking as tears flowed. They stayed in their embrace for what seemed like ten minutes – frozen in what I can only assume was, perhaps, one of the happiest moments of their lives.
Do I support war? No. Not at all, in fact. I feel like this moment should have never even happened, frankly and each time I hear about more people dying (American, Iraqi, whoever) it just gets more puzzling and senseless to me. But I’ll tell you what, we should never overlook the huge sacrifices (sometimes the ultimate sacrifice) our soldiers make when they put their lives on the line. Aside from war, the army, etc, this moment at the airport last night was not emotional because he was a soldier. I suspect I would have been equally moved if this boy was coming home from the peace corps after three years.
What moved me so much was the intense love on display. The initial anticipation, then the overwhelming, sheer excitement of seeing your boy again. Your son. Your uncle. Your best friend.
So, did I get any pictures of this? I managed to snap the picture right at the moment the son fell into the arms of his mother. Sadly, some businessman in a hurry stepped right in front of the shot and blocked most of it. I’m still deciding if I want to post it.
Song now playing: Mark Lanegan – “I’ll Take Care Of You”