On Nov. 11th we packed our car and loaded up the family to head to Ft. Campbell. The men my son served with were on their way home from Iraq and I was finally going to get to meet and hug these men who have become so important in my life.
As we drove on Veteran’s Day I thought about how lucky the people in this country are to have the men and women of our military. Between it being Veterans day and where we were heading I had no choice but to see things from a perspective most Americans fail to look at. We drove without fear of IEDs. There were no check points. We could stop along the way and not fear snipers or suicide bombers. When we were hungry we had a multitude of options. And I knew without a doubt that these freedoms and this security are due fully to the fact we have such an outstanding group of people who made the choice to wear the uniform and defend these things.
I realized also.. we have WON in Iraq. Yes we are still there. Yes there is still some fighting. But it is safer in Iraq for American troops than civilians in Chicago these days. The foundation of what we set out to do is set. Our goals met and the lives of the Iraq people will be better. They are now tasting freedom. And anyone that wants to argue and diminish that victory and take that from these men and my son can try. But facts are facts. No one but these men and their leaders can claim that victory.
As I watched the plane filled with America’s finest land my heart leap and broke all in the same moment. I knew that from my son’s Company he would be the only one not walking off that plane. But in a way few will ever comprehend, the last part of my son did get off that plane. His spirit is in each of them and with them he came home too.
The one thing that stands out the most from this trip is as I stood standing and talking to one of the men of my son’s platoon I felt a tap on my shoulder. As I turned, I saw them all. They had gathered together to find me. There was a line of men who had smiles and hugs for me. I was introduced to family members as their “Army Mom”. They still have no idea what a gift they are to me. There will be more meetings an more stories to share. There will be laughter and tears. But once again I saw the strength and selflessness of these men. My heroes.. my soldier family.