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Recently, I went to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for the arrival of our beautiful “international daughter” Aliena. We had the privilege to meet Aliena when she became part of our family for one year through a foreign exchange program. Of the many programs available, we hosted through http://www.afs.org/ . I encourage you to consider the opportunity http://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Foreign-Exchange-Student and see if your life can be just as enriched as ours has been.
But, I digress (for good reason though)
All international arrivals come through one gate in terminal D. I watched the status board to anxiously see if Aliena’s flight had landed and it showed the baggage claim information. I knew when that appeared, her plane was grounded on US soil and she was somewhere behind those frosted glass automatic doors.
Oh, those doors—frosted glass automatic sliding doors.
Eagerly watching those doors each time they opened to see if, maybe, just maybe, she was walking my way. My heart pounded and my stomach had butterflies for the daughter I had grown to love and missed so much for two years since she returned to Germany at the end of her US school year.
If you know me very well, you know I do not cry easily. BUT, two things will make me cry like a baby- memorable sports moments/movies/occasions and anything patriotic. (without getting political here, I’m very proud to say that no matter what your platform, political biases/favoritisms, opinion on the current status, blah blah blah, I LOVE THE USA for reasons that extend back way before the current crises began.)
Standing there, heart pounding, I scanned the gathered crowd. It overwhelmed me to see so many people, anxiously waiting, like me, for their someone to materialize from the frosted glass. Every time it opened, the body language of every person tended to lean forward, just a bit, like a tree in a gently blowing breeze. The broad, expectant smiles spoke volumes about why they were there and the sheer joy of seeing their loved one emerge from behind the glass radiated from their collective beings.
It felt magical.
Suddenly, the doors parted and two men briskly walked up the welcoming aisle—IN UNISON, three children maybe around the age of 4 all yelled, “daddy”, in perfect unity. (the crowd of admirers waiting their turn emitted a collective “ahhhhh” witnessing such a heartfelt moment—Hallmark got nothing on DFW) The kiddos ran forward almost too far into the “NO ENTRY” zone, but, those daddies ran up to catch them. One man scooped his daughter up and squeezed her so tightly, I thought her ponytail would stand straight up. He wept silent tears in the sweet embrace of that beautiful little girl. The other man scooped both his sons into his bear hug and kissed one’s head to the other before embracing and just taking in the miracle of their existence and the privilege of being THEIR daddy and how much they loved each other.
One beaming man met his very pregnant companion and just after their embrace, he gingerly rubbed her belly, grinning ear to ear. Priceless.
It felt as if we, the crowd, were voyeurs to such precious moments each time a new person arrived to the hugs, handshakes, tears, and hearty hello’s of their expectant ones.
No one allowed their pride in the way of their moment.
While waiting, I noticed a large dedication area and a television replaying the arrival of many US troops that came home from long tours overseas. I knew many volunteers gathered for the arrival of US troops, but, until I read the information in the dedication area, I had no idea what an amazing and grand scale the project at DFW really was. http://www.dfwairport.com/heroes/
I found more about the program history here: http://www.ntc-dfw.org/meet_troops_dfw.html
“In June 2004, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the Colleyville Chamber of Commerce and the North Texas Commission launched the Welcome Home a Hero program to greet U.S. troops returning for two weeks of rest and recuperation. What began as a modest effort to honor our soldiers became an outpouring of community support to demonstrate gratitude to the men and women in uniform.”( From NTC.DFW.ORG)
And, check this out http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/dfw.shtm  in 2007, DFW Intl reached a milestone by welcoming home 500,000 arrivals- all greeted by flags waving, homemade signs flashing, cheers roaring, laughter ensuing, and tears flowing. Yes, it was THAT awesome.
I felt a moment of human connection in that airport that I’d not felt in a very long time, and it was extraordinary.
In March 2012, DFW closed the official Welcome Home a Hero program. Thankfully, due to the reduction in US forces abroad, the organized daily operations no longer require the same multitude of assistance. However, troops do return daily and still have needs that volunteers meet every day and people still participate to welcome home our service members.
I read the information, watched more marvelous reunions and kept waiting and waiting and waiting for my international arrival. All the while thinking of how many perfect strangers felt happiness as we gathered in that terminal with other people we would, in all likelihood, never see again.
Then, it hit me, most of those volunteers greeting our troops would never even know their names and probably never saw them again, after that brief moment of welcoming. Do you realize how un-selfish and loving that truly is? What a remarkable display of not only humanity, but, patriotism at its’ best, untainted by politics.   
I won’t lie to you, when Aliena finally hit that welcome aisle, I ran in my high heels on the slick tile as quick as I could get to her and we both released tears of joy as we hugged and just reveled in the moment.
My international daughter was home, even if only for one month. Our family is complete once again.
Just as many service members revel in being home, if only for one week, one month, and for a grateful few, forever. But, in that long awaited moment of arrival, it feels like eternity.
And, it’s grand. Happy Fourth of July my Fellow Fathomers!


Lisa said…
Happy 4th of July. Your post leaves me speechless (in a good way).

laurie said…
happy July fourth. what a wonderful post...i was in Washington dc back in 08 for a trip. on the shuttle bus for my trip home there was a military man on his way to Iraq.. he and i chatted about how it's like over there and all. and when it was my turn to get off the shuttle i thanked him for protecting us all (even thou i am a Canadian by birth. also it was remembrance day the day after i got home and when i was watching the service on tv i wept not knowing if that service man would EVER get home ok
Sue Sattler said…
When my son was coming home for his two weeks from Iraq, at every layover someone wanted to buy him a drink to thank him. After his plane landed at our airport we watched and waited for him to come down the stairs. Someone finally told us that he was asleep (to many thank you drinks) and the pilot was trying to wake him up. When he finally walked down the stairs with the pilot, I was shocked that almost everyone on the plane waited behind me so that they could clap and give him a warm welcome home. Unfortunately he lost his battle with severe PTSD and I lost him on Jan 2, 2011, but I will always remember that day when people stopped rushing off to their own lives and showed my son so much love.

Anonymous said…
Thank you for sharing your beautiful post. What a wonderful program that made homecoming more special for our brave military men and women.

strive4bst at yahoo dot com
Crissy Morris said…
I've been lucky enough to be at the airport when troops have made it home. It's a beautiful, humbling sight. And you're right I don't know if I've ever been happier for perfect strangers. It's a wonderful thing!

Davee said…
thank you all for sharing your experiences. it indeed humbles me to witness such heartfelt displays of gratitude.
Sue, I'm so sorry to hear your son passed. It's heartbreaking that in serving our country, he gave the ultimate sacrifice with his life.
I really appreciate your candor and I hope you all find some joy on this Independence Day.
Just a side note, my grandfather was a retired Marine who served in the Korean war. He received a Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds to his chest.
He died on July 4, 2003 after battling lifelong emotional trauma from the war. I believe he held on for a reason until Independence Day.
Juliana said…
I'm glad you had such a good experience at the airport and that they had such a program.
Thanks for participating in the hop! Happy 4th!
OceanAkers @ aol.com
Kaylyn D. said…
I am an Army wife of 6 years. My hubby has been deployed over 27 months of my marriage. The joy on my daughters face when she sees Daddy after him being gone for months at a time is humbling. Thanks for the giveaway. Happy Independence Day!
Kaylyn D. said…
Oops forget my email. kaylyndavis1986@yahoo.com
wpogrant said…
Happy 4th of July.
Christine said…
What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing with us. The outpouring of support by strangers is amazing for our troops, and if anyone has the opportunity to support our troops/vets, please do so!

isabelli3619 (at) aol (dot) com
Foretta said…
great post! glad you got to see something so wonderful and spend time with your daughter!

BLHmistress said…
Your post made me cry, I'm a Army brat , my dad served for 21 years before he retired but you never forget those moments when they have to leave. and when they come back its the best feeling. He served in Vietnam , I was just a baby when he was gone then but I thank every day he came home to me.

Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful post.

wulf said…
That was a very nice blog post :)

Happy 4th of July!

Cornelia said…
Your post was wonderful,it is the service members who give all for our independence.Have a great 4th.
msspencerauthor said…
I'm wiping away tears as I read your blog--we are so lucky to live in American & have such fabulous troops & volunteers. I saw a welcome home celebration at National (DC) airport my last flight & the soldiers were so surprised & pleased to be greeted. Thanks for writing about it & Happy Independence Day! M. S. Spencer
Anonymous said…
Enjoyed the post. A fellow Marine, whose a member of SAMS, got several of us onto the Patriot Guards e-mail list to welcome home troops here in Sacramento. Always gives me goose bumps.
Happy 4th everyone.
panthers.ravens@yahoo dot com
Mel Bourn said…
WOW! What a wonderful post. A great reminder of what is so wonderful about this country and the men and women who serve and protect it.
bournmelissa at hotmail dot com
Emily said…
Thank you for your wonderful post. It's nice to see how a little can go a long way. Happy 4th!

Tina Turner said…
Thanks for sharing :) tinamturner@live.com
MG WELLS said…
Very touching, Davee! Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story. May Peace and Prosperity Follow You...Always...MG ♥☆ƸӜƷ☆♥
Jlhmass said…
Great post. Perfect to remind us about Independence Day.

Jlhmass at yahoo dot com
Unknown said…
Wow... what a beautiful post!

June M. said…
Beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing. The men and women who serve and protect our country are true heroes.
manning_j2004 at yahoo dot co
Catherine Lee said…
I got a lump in my throat reading your post. It seems that at airports and on airplanes, our servicemen and women are recognized and shown appreciation for all that they do. I have been a witness to some similar scenes and it fills me with such overwhelming pride and joy.
Happy July 4th
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com
Evelyn said…
Happy 4th of July!!! Thanks for the contest! We loved watching the fireworks tonight! They were GREAT!!!

Terri said…
ty for the post
goin to our local fair for the fireworks show and the mini fair that they have

Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic post.Thanks Again. Fantastic.

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