Have your emotions in check.

on June 28, 2008 in Ze Bloggy Goodness with 8 comments by

I went to pick up a friend at the Atlanta Airport today. It always amazes me the mass amount of people that travel through this building in a day.

As I arrived a few minutes early, pear-scented air freshener hanging from my rear view mirror, I decided just to go on inside instead of waiting at the curb.

There is a long escalator from the tram to the baggage claim. If you are meeting someone, you stand at the top of the escalator, about 30 feet back behind a seriously enforced yellow line and wait.

I was there for only two minutes or so when a woman yelled, “Welcome home, soldier!” and then the crowd began to clap.

I clapped, thinking she was a bit too loud for my personal “public place” preference, but I understand her excitement over a family member or loved one returning home.

But as I stayed there, she continued. Apparently it is a service provided now, on a volunteer basis, for the soldiers. A welcome home, a hug from a sweet lady, the offer of a cell phone to call someone, a gentle leading in the direction of the luggage.

The first time was a shock. The second time, an investigation. By the third, fourth, fifth times- I was dripping tears on my book. To watch these family members see their soldier for the first time in who knows how long was a bit much on the emotions.

And you never knew when it was coming. There could be two trams with no soldiers, and then one tram with ten. And every time, family members would come running from amongst the crowd, usually weeping, and embrace the one who has just arrived. Rarely have I seen people so grateful to be home. So grateful to have made it home. So grateful to be picking someone up from the airport who somehow made it home.

It was a bit much for me. I didn’t see it coming.

So I provide this public service to you.

Should you find yourself waiting for someone in the Atlanta airport, there are men and women who have been serving our country returning through here. And their families love them deeply. And you will have to stand there and watch as they are appropriately appreciated for their hard work and sacrifice. You will clap, even if you don’t mean to. You can try to look away, but your gaze will be drawn back to the raw beauty of it all.

It will mess with your heart.

Consider yourself warned.

8 comments

  1. Eve
    posted on Jun 28, 2008 at 5:18 AM  |  reply

    That is wonderful! It is a good reminder that while we are safe at home with our families tonight not everyone is.

  2. annie
    posted on Jun 28, 2008 at 6:37 AM  |  reply

    Great post. I know how emotional that can be. Thanks for sharing this experience with us all.

  3. Andrew & Audra
    posted on Jun 28, 2008 at 2:49 PM  |  reply

    Wow! I got chillbumps all up and down my body! Very touching…

  4. brightasafeather
    posted on Jun 28, 2008 at 5:37 PM  |  reply

    wow. that sounds intensely beautiful. I’m glad that lady is loud, hopefully it wakes people up to what’s going on in other people’s lives. thanks for sharing!

  5. Jonathan
    posted on Jun 28, 2008 at 8:39 PM  |  reply

    amy here:

    beautiful annie! i cried, ive been there and ive cried too!

  6. Kelly @ Love Well
    posted on Jun 29, 2008 at 3:26 AM  |  reply

    So true! We lived in San Diego for eight years, and I never failed to bawl when I saw a ship come home. All those families, searching the ship for the face of their loved one. All those children crying, “Daddy!” at the top of their lungs.

    I’m getting choked up just thinking about it! Oy!

  7. The Momster
    posted on Jun 30, 2008 at 10:22 AM  |  reply

    What a great story about something good coming out of the ATL 🙂 I worked at that airport prior to 911 so it’s wonderful to hear that our men and women are being treated with the dignity and respect that a returning hero deserves.

    It’s sort of like getting ‘news from home’.
    Be blessed!

  8. Marilyn
    posted on Jul 01, 2008 at 2:23 AM  |  reply

    Boy does this post bring back memories! I have been that mother waiting for her Marine to come back from Iraq and step off that plane for a long awaited hug! I have been the one holding a welcome home sign and smiling from ear to ear while crying all at the same time! The first time he came home all safe and sound. The second homecoming from Iraq was straight from a hospital in Germany where he’s had brain surgery after being struck several times by shrapnal from an IED. But he DID make it home alive and is doing well although given a medical retirement because of his injuries. A big Thank You to all the people who welcome our military when they come home! It means a lot….both to them and to their families! I know….I’ve been there!

    May God bless you.

    Marilyn in MS

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