America’s Heroes!

Today I had the wonderful privilege of volunteering with the USO at the Atlanta airport.  This is the second time I have helped, and each time I have been overwhelmed with emotion.

The USO is an amazing organization whose mission is to “lift the spirits of our American troops and their families.” They truly live up to that mission. I was with a precious group of women today, one woman’s son served in Iraq four years and died two years ago, not from active duty, but from liver cancer.

He was living in New York during 9/11 where his best friend was killed. After that, he quit his job and enlisted in the army. He was in Special Forces and served our country well until his death.  His youngest daughter was two weeks old when he died.

His precious mother volunteers six times a year, loving on young men and women all of whom remind her of her son. One friend asked her today how in the world she does this and not think of her son each time. I was so touched by her life and vitality and joy knowing that he lived his life to the fullest and loved this country with all his heart.

That was just one highlight of my day. The first few hours I stood with two other women at the top of the escalators where all of the passengers arrive. We cheered and clapped and welcomed our troops home. Some were coming home for R&R, but most were going back to Iraq or Afghanistan. Most of the ones I talked with were going to Afghanistan and were very downcast. It tore my heart.

The last half of the day, I was on kitchen duty at USO headquarters feeding these heroes. They thanked us over and over for lunch. We told them “thank you for all you do!” Serving lunch to these amazing men and women was the least we could do. I had a knot in my throat the entire day. So many looked very young. One young man, who had just been on R&R had three children under the age of five. He went a year and eight months without seeing them once.

The sacrifices these people make is beyond my comprehension. The attitude and gratitude that they exhibit is humbling. They give their lives daily for us to have our freedom. I pray we are living up to their sacrifice and teaching our children about the great price they are paying.

We walked them down to process out before they left. I held back tears as we clapped and cheered them on their way. The sweet mother, whose son died was with me, and we went though the line and shook each and every one’s hand. We thanked and hugged and blessed them. By the time I was through, the tears began to swell.

These men and women truly are America’s heroes, and the USO is fulfilling their mission “until everyone comes home.”  May it be sooner than later, and may they know we are praying for them and thankful for them that they put their lives on the line so we can live ours. God bless America and God bless America’s heroes!