Today was the last day of summer vacation for us and it was perfect. It all started with Liam bringing Garreth and I coffee in bed and having snug time. That’s pretty hard to top, but, we did. This was followed by me baking and enjoying gluten free muffins. I promise that is no easy task. Then on to our beautiful deck to enjoy a game of scrabble with Liam.
And here’s the almost best part. We went to greet the troops. A group of NATO troops were returning to the States for training before heading back to their base in Germany. They represented Spain, Germany, Canada and America. I’ve loved being part of the Pease Greeters. It such a simple thing to clap and shake hands with people who are willing to give so much for their countries. This is all followed by a short ceremony where the old warriors salute the young warriors and generally the commanding officer says a few things. This time she said, “It’s important for you to know that when America goes to war, we don’t go alone.” My side note is that while numbers may matter politically, they don’t matter in this forum where we are thanking people for their individual service. She also said that she remembers greeting troops during the Gulf War when she was growing up and she requested that they land at Pease because she knew her people would be appreciated. I LOVE that!
Here’s the best part. It was an AWAC plane (pretty spy plane with a funky top. Do I need a disclaimer that says I know nothing about the military?)
AND THEY INVITED US ON!!!!! How cool is that?! So here we are in line with really no idea what we’ll do with Aidan. Maybe just ask if he can walk around the plane and look at the big engines and pretty colors. No way! One very large, thick-accented German comes up and says, “We get him on. No problem.” Then he waves to two other ripped military men who wisk Aidan, wheelchair and all, up to the top of the stairs. Then what, you ask? They invite him into the teeny tiny cockpit and again just wisk him into the seat. (They totally would have gotten in trouble with my physical therapist). After being told we can’t take pictures on board, the fabulous military men ask if we have a camera. Does anyone here know the right response? “Of course we do, right here on Aidan’s ipad!” How much am I kicking myself that we forgot all about that? I brilliantly commented on the abundance of buttons. The pilot with some twang said, “Hey, I’m from North Carolina. If I can learn these, anyone can.” They were humble, kind, and so grateful that we came out to greet them.
The plane was basically a control tower in the sky. I learned so much. Here was the most moving thing one of the soldiers told me regarding this NATO plane; it was one of the first to respond Stateside to guard our homeland after 9/11 so American soldiers could go off to war….which made me think of this quote at the Korean War memorial we recently visited in Washington D.C.:
I remain humbled, grateful, amazed. Thank-you troops!