Last night I wanted to give my thoughts to our veterans, and so I sought out programming that would instill gratitude. Well, I hit the Mother of all programs on PBS with a documentary titled The Way We Get By. It was a documentary about a group of senior citizens who greet the thousands of troops that say good bye to our shores, and then are welcomed back, in Bangor, Maine. The flights from this eastern outpost carry away our sons and daughters. It is their first stopping place before they catch their flights home. Few relatives make the trip to Maine, instead waiting until their children reach their home terminal. These wonderful people ascertained that every soldier deserved a thank you and a hug as they made these transitions. And so for the last 7 years, they have greeted our troops with love, treats, and the free use of cell phones to contact loved ones. Mind you- the three featured are old, infirm, and juggling terrible health and welfare issues. The men are veterans, and are alone and lonely. The have found a higher purpose.
I cried myself to sleep with the haunting images of the young and sweet kids heading out and into hell, and the generosity of these greeters. The flights come in all through the night. They are essentially on call 24/7/365, and it is a great sacrifice. It seems like a little thing, but it is service, the kind that rewards the giver. It is so appreciated by the war weary travelers, who nuzzle the service dog, shake hands, and return hugs. They call their moms, and fight back tears. It is a little window into a world we can only imagine. It helps us to remember the dignity of service.