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Returning Home

   I thought this was going to just be another boring flight,
but it actually gave me goose bumps...

   I sat in my seat of the Boeing 767 waiting for everyone to hurry and
stow their carry-on's and grab a seat so we could start what I was sure to
be a long, uneventful flight home.

   With the huge capacity and slow moving people taking their time to stuff
luggage far too big for the overhead and never paying much attention to
holding up the growing line behind them, I simply shook my head knowing
that this flight was not starting out very well. I was anxious to get home
to see my loved ones so I was focused on my issues and just felt like
standing up and yelling for some of these clowns to get their act together.

   I knew I couldn't say a word so I just thumbed thru the "Sky Mall"
magazine from the seat pocket in front of me.

   You know it's really getting rough when you resort to the over priced,
useless sky mall crap to break the monotony.

   With everyone finally seated, we just sat there with the cabin door open
and no one in any hurry to get us going although we were well past the
scheduled take off time.

   No wonder the airline industry is in trouble I told myself.

   Just then, the attendant came on the intercom to inform us all that we
were being delayed.  The entire plane let out a collective groan.
   She resumed speaking to say "We are holding the aircraft for some very
special people who are on their way to the plane and the delay shouldn't be
more than 5 minutes. The word came after waiting six times as long as we
were promised that I was finally going to be on my way home.
Why the hoopla over "these" folks? I was expecting some celebrity or sport figure to be the reason for the hold up ...

   Just get their butts in a seat and let's hit the gas I thought.  The
attendant came back on the speaker to announce in a loud and excited voice that we were being joined by several U.S. Marines returning home from Iraq !!!

   Just as they walked on board, the entire plane erupted into applause.
The men were a bit taken by surprise by the 340 people cheering for them as they searched for their seats.  They were having their hands shook and
touched by almost everyone who was within an arm's distance of them as they passed down the aisle.
One elderly woman kissed the hand of one of the Marines as he passed by her.

   The applause, whistles and cheering didn't stop for a long time.  When
we were finally airborne, I was not the only civilian checking his
conscience as to the delays in "me" getting home, finding my easy chair, a
cold beverage and the remote in my hand. These men had done for all of us
and I had been complaining silently about "me" and "my" issues I took for
granted the everyday freedoms I enjoy and the conveniences of the American way of life. I took for granted that others had paid the price for my ability to moan and complain about a few minutes delay to "me" while those Heroes were going home to their loved ones.

   I attempted to get my selfish outlook back in order and minutes before
we landed, I suggested to the attendant that she announce over the speaker
a request for everyone to remain in their seats until our heroes were
allowed to gather their things and be first off the plane.

   The cheers and applause continued until the last Marine stepped off and
we all rose to go about our too often taken for granted everyday freedoms.

   I felt proud of them.

   I felt it an honor and a privilege to be among the first to welcome them
home and say "Thank You for a job well done."

   I vowed that I will never forget that flight nor the lesson learned. I
can't say it enough, THANK YOU to those Veterans and active servicemen and women who may read this and a prayer for those who cannot because they are no longer with us.


   This is a ribbon for soldiers fighting in Iraq .
   Pass it on to everyone and pray.


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