On the early morning of July 4th my cargo included more than 200 patriotically-decorated cookies and cupcakes; my mission was to deliver them to DFW's USO center for troops redeploying back to Iraq and Afghanistan after I greeted the troops just arriving.
It was a match made in heaven.
I had volunteered to greet the troops with a group from my church; Celebrity Cafe and Bakery had volunteered to donate the treats.
As the clock ticked closer to arrival time, the crowd surged to numbers beyond my ability to estimate accurately, maybe 700, and it was a party atmosphere. Terminal D was swimming in a sea of red, white, and blue posters, signs, shirts, shorts, hats, and excitement.
There were a handful of family members present.
But most were people like me who woke up early on a day typically designated for sleeping in to join with a crowd of people I didn’t know to welcome home men and women who didn’t know me.
It was “indivisible” in action at its best.
We waited patiently, but were so anxious to celebrate that we cheered a flight attendant who exited just before the troops.
When the first of 120 soldiers did cross the threshold of the International Arrivals door a din of noise rose with cheers, whoops, hollers, and whistles began that lasted with the same energy and fervor until the last soldier had passed through the crowd.
Although they deserved the same recognition, there was no hoopla or clamoring crowds in Terminal B where the troops were gathering for redeployment.
They’d been home for two weeks and, as I learned from chatting with a handful of soldiers, it’s tough leaving family and friends especially on a national holiday even with a sendoff that included a banjo-playing Grandpa-type, a BBQ lunch with all the fixings, and sweets from Celebrity Bakery that I had successfully delivered.
With my mission completed, I was free to go.
I left with a feeling of deep thankfulness for the men and women who are willing to go, for those that have gone before, and especially for those who never made it home.
Yes, I am thankful from the very bottom to the top of my red, white, and blue heart for the freedom and the liberty they have given me.
And thanks to Celebrity Cafe and Bakery for the reminder of how good it tastes to be free.
- Celebrity Bakery is offering a "two for one" offer for any of their "red, white, and blue" treats during the month of July for all military personnel. Show your military ID at any of their locations to receive a two for one.