First, I had to explain to my son why we are thanking these men and women. I - who am firmly opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - am still fully respectful of the jobs that these soldiers are doing for our country. I needed to find a way to articulate my love and respect for these men and women in uniform to my son without glorifying war or using political talk. So - I did the only thing I could think of at the time - I drew a map. I explained that this little piece of land here on the map is called "America" ... and it is where we live ... and there are all sorts of other countries all around the world too. And each country has men and women who volunteer (or are ordered) to protect that country and all the people in it. Sometimes one country wants to hurt another country --- so these men and women sometimes have to leave their homes and go fly over to other countries to stop them from trying to invade our own. I further explained that just as Daddy protects us from anyone who might want to hurt us --- these soldiers have the job of protecting our entire country. That is why we say THANKS.
Now, I know that this is very oversimplified ... and war is way more political and nasty than I would dare explain to my 4 -year old. And frankly, not all men and women in uniform are honorable. BUT, they are all human ... they are all our brothers and sisters ... and in the best situations ... they are off to do what they believe is right in order to protect the freedoms we hold dear. This is what I want my son to understand and to respect.
So, Isaac and I waved flags, clapped vigorously and shook many hands as these men and women arrived into our airport. We welcomed them to Bangor, thanked them for their service and told them to be sure to come home safe. All our well wishes were happily received. And it felt so good just to share a smile with these folks before they headed into the unknown (these were mostly young recruits headed off for the first time) ... but it also was heartbreaking. Some of these boys looked like babes to me. And some of the women were very likely somebody's mama or little girl. I don't want them to have to leave. But if they must ... then Isaac and I wish them a safe return.
In fact, we are now official "Troop Greeters" (we read the rules and signed on the dotted line and will now be called at all hours of the day to let us know when troops are coming home or leaving). Our name tags will be here shortly.
Isaac - of course - made best buds with a little blond troop greeter (almost 5 years old) who told him she has been Troop Greeting since she was born. She taught him how to "greet" and then took him around to pass out goodies to the soldiers once they were mingling. It was so very sweet (and a little rambunctious) :
And now I believe he is in love. I am sure it will not be hard to get him to come with me for future Troop Greetings - as this little sweetie told him that she is there as often as she can be :)
I am proud of my little man --- proud that he is learning love and respect for those who serve --- and praying that these wars will end asap.