We can all be of service

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.  

The son of a greeter created this documentary. At that time, they had welcomed 300,000 soldiers and 20 dogs.  They are up to 900,000 veterans and 266 dogs now.  It is a haunting perspective.  
I hope you will look at the clip, and perhaps seek it out.  I am changed forever.  I think you will be too.  Better yet, we can all find ways to help out out veterans, our seniors, and our community.  A lot of little things can create big change.  Look for a way to make a difference.  It can start with a smile and a thank you.
An update:  for a period of time, this documentary can be seen online in its entirety.  It is worth the effort.   Enjoy.

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  • Hi Janet - thanks for the great post once again. What a beautiful movie. I just went to their website and purchased the DVD. I want to watch it with my kids, ages 17 & 14.

  • Hey Janet - Thanks for sharing a preview of The Way We Get By.

    Even though I am muddling through the darkest days of my entire life right now, the 128 seconds I just viewed made me realize there are bigger issues out there.

    I look forward to seeing this in its entirety.

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