The happy news of the end of the Iraq War reminds me of a scene a few summers ago at the Knoxville airport. I was coming to pick up Maurizio, parked in the short term lot and followed a pretty young mother and two small children up to the arrivals gate. Mother and daughter wore matching pastels; the little boy’s clothes were equally crispy new. All three were freshly coifed. They seemed happy but each one absorbed, barely speaking. “Their soldier’s coming home,” I guessed.
We assembled with a clutch of waiting people a discrete distance from the “passengers only beyond this line” sign. Maurizio’s flight was late, so I watched for theirs. And there he was: a young man in uniform pushing through the revolving gate with a backpack and manila envelope. From years of teaching at a base in Naples, I knew the envelope held his PCS (permanent change of station) orders which must be affixed to the soldier during transit. After so much waiting, the family seemed stunned motionless by his sudden appearance. He sprinted toward them. At the “passengers only” sign, he dropped pack and envelope, fell to his knees and slid the rest of the way, arms open towards the running children.
Welcome home to all those returning.