Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our Army Man is Home

As we drove down the lane coming into the armory, flags lined the drive and families with signs anxiously waiting all the way down the sides of the road. Luckily, we managed to get a front row parking space and got out the one lawn chair that happened to be in the car. Yes, Momma got it while Daddy pulled out a folding table he placed on the grass to sit on. Sorry, but Momma don't get up and down as good as Daddy does.

Cameron called regularly with updates on his location as they rolled into the DFW. The community came out and lined the streets of the little town. Only family members were allowed into the Armory, the unloading zone. We could see the buses as they passed down the highway with their police escort, lights flashing, and the motorcycle club The Freedom Riders horns bellowing as they escorted them into town. They passed our turn in and looped around Wylie for the community to show their support. What's another few minutes for the proud family members to wait while their soldiers were honored by the townsfolk.

We called Cam on his cell phone to see which bus he was riding in and what side he was sitting on, bus driver or door; 1st bus, 5th seat behind the driver. Then they rolled in past Walmart to the waiting crowd. We were all bursting with pride and excitement. Cheers erupted. Sirens and horns leading the way. As the first bus passed, I was all set to see Cameron in the window. There he was, maybe. The window was tinted so dark we could barely make out a hand waving. I took a picture anyway but I don't think I got the right soldier. Really, who's going to know. I don't. It's going in the book!

We ran to the buses to watch our service men file off one by one to the waiting wives, children, girlfriends, fiancees, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandparents, and other army buddies. Each were grabbed, hugged, kissed, and/or photographed. Some had to search for their family members through the sea of heads. As Cameron climbed down the steps, he turned and saw me right away. I was the face behind the camera snapping as many shots as fast as my camera would cycle. Finally, as my son made his way to me he said, "Okay Mom, no more pictures," and gave me a big hug. Then he hugged his Dad, his sister, and both nieces. He looked around and his fiancee, Kristina, was hanging back but his eagle eye spotted her and pushed his way through the crowd. The scene was far better than any ad Hallmark could dream up. It was very sweet.

Yes, my son made it home from Iraq safe and sound, and I praise God. You see, a couple of his comrades were also waiting to see the buses arrive. They came home a few months earlier due to a car bomb that caused an arm injury for one and almost killed the other. Alive and on crutches he was all smiles for the homecoming. He spent several weeks in the hospital after losing a good portion of his back. It was heartwarming to see the all the soldiers line up to shake his hand and give him a gentle hug. They had their final formation and were dismissed.

Starving, we made a trip to the Steak and Shake, and then flew home to crash into bed. I have no idea what time Cam went to sleep but I was out like a light. Happy, relieved, and thanking God for having my chick back under my wing, safely home.

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