I saw Hope today.
So I'm currently in Shannon Airport...Shannon, Ireland. I'm on my way to Scotland in about an hour. Well, I go through the security, walk into the gift shop, and I am instantly surrounded by about 200 United States Marines...all in their desert camo.
It turns out that they are heading home today...from Iraq. They've been travelin' home for about five days actually! And all of a sudden, they realize they are within a few hours of arriving in North Carolina. They can taste it!
I don't know what it was, but I just had to talk to them. I walked around and talked to several soldiers...askin' 'em where they are from, how long they've been deployed (six months), what it was like, what they miss most, etc.
Some answers about what they miss most...
(I told them that family couldn't be the answer, because we all knew that one was obvious).
One guy said grass. Six months in the desert makes you yearn for anything green. Ireland was a wonderful welcome to them, they said. They saw green again. One guy said he wanted to just run his hand through grass. I gave him full permission to lay in it and do a "grass angel." I think he is going to take me up on it.
Getting laid. As blunt as it is, I guess six months with other guys just tends to make you yearn for the
The camp. What they used to hate, they now yearned for. They just wanted to be back at home base. One guy said "Give me two months, and I'll hate it again!" but for now, he wanted home.
We talked a bit about soccer, baseball, my trip around the world (they all loved it!), and just small talk. These were some of the most excited and chattiest guys I've ever seen...young men and a couple of women.
And the funny thing is I don't think they knew how giddy they were! It was just overflowin'!
They were just excited to get home!
One of the most powerful moments for me during the entire talk was a guy sittin' a few feet across from me. He was kind of reserved, but he would talk now and again. He had the calm and cool face about him. Maybe a bit more mature than the rest of these guys (buyin' alcohol and talkin' about what tattoos they would get when they got home). But he would smirk at my jokes, so I knew he was listening. But he just seemed to be thinkin' about somethin' else.
About 10-15 minutes into our conversation, I just naturally happened to glance over at him. He was leanin' forward, left arm on his knee, fingers extended to his chin. And I saw the ring.
I was still talkin' with the other guys, but a load of bricks just hit me! I have never one to be all excited about emotions and whatnot, but I went from seeing a soldier to seeing a husband. Full camo. Comin' home from Iraq. To his wife.
I don't know, even writin' this it's still powerful. These are just young men and women. From Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina...my states. Our states.
And though I didn't ask it, I knew it. Some of them aren't goin' home.
I can't even imagine the thoughts in their heads..."Well, I made it." "Well, I didn't die..." I don't know...I'm sure there is a lot more than beer and girls on their minds! They don't know when they are being called back...they don't know how long they will be home. I can't even imagine. But for now, they are goin' home.
Shannon Airport is sending home our men and women to Iraq.
Take good care of them, America.
I told all of them Illinois appreciated what they are doing. They were a bit surprised, I think, but they were very appreciative. Their faces showed that what they were doing all of a sudden had "outside" worth. A little boy. Travelin' across Europe. I appreciate them. And frankly, I don't know that they've heard a thanks in quite awhile. At least outside of their unit.
I was more than happy to give one.
2007-08-28 08:45:26 GMT