This was 18 months ago, when Alli, V and I were at San Francisco airport waiting to meet her husband, Shane. They had not seen each other for almost a year— they would have two weeks together, before he would return to Iraq to continue his 15- month deployment.
As we stood at the gate holding our signs, we had no idea that other people were gathering behind us, as we waited for all the passengers to deplane.
Shane stepped through the gate in his uniform, and practically leaped into Alli’s arms. Suddenly, all around us, people were applauding. And crying. And waiting quietly, to have a chance to thank him for his service.
Not what you might expect in liberal, anti-war San Francisco. It was a completely unexpected and emotional outpouring from strangers— on top of our own intense emotions that day.
Welcoming a soldier home from war was an experience I never signed up for… and an experience I will never forget.
And an experience I will have again.
After a year at home in El Paso, Shane and his unit are being re-deployed for another year in Iraq, as President Obama winds down the war begun by George W. Bush.
Shane and Alli just returned to southern California so he can see his family before he leaves for Iraq in a few weeks. And that’s where I am right now…saying goodbye again…until the day I will stand in an airport with a sign to welcome him home.