Over 150 U.S. soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan arrive each day at DFW airport. These soldiers are just beginning their two week R&R, a well-deserved rest after six months in war zones. As they emerge from international customs, on their way to family or to connecting flights home, the soldiers are greeted by hundreds of cheering and thankful Americans. VFW members shake every soldier's hand, cub scout packs hold hand-painted signs, church groups wave flags, and nearly everyone in the building sheds tears. This is the soldiers' first glimpse of home, and it's a moment they will surely never forget.
I've welcomed troops at least twenty times over the past two years. I get choked up at the scenes I witness with each arrival. A private from Kansas leans on me as she breaks down and sobs, totally overwhelmed by the emotional release of wartime stress. Young mothers hold out to fathers the tiny babies born while they served their nation halfway around the world. Older mothers scream and cry as their uniformed sons emerge tall and erect at the door of the walkway.
It is difficult to put into words the pure joy this simple welcoming act has brought to soldiers and civilians alike. For a brief thirty minutes every day, all come together in rejoicing the return of our heroes.