Not all of our troops (or even many) get this kind of reception in the airports of this country!
In fact, most of them don't even get a smile or a nod of the head. We all cried at the Budweiser Superbowl Commercial when the troops received a standing ovation, but the truth is, we are not those people - we choose not to be those people. For the most part, we are selfish and self-absorbed. We don't take the time out of our day to make anyone's day any better, let alone the troops. Well...STOP IT!
I have had the privilege of doing quite a bit of traveling the past few years. It is easy to get lost in the confusion of the airport terminals and people rushing to do what they need to do, get where they need to get. But, more often than not, we end up sitting and waiting somewhere. It is easy to go into an insulated shell and pretend all of those other people aren't there. It is easy not to smile at the person next to you. It is easy to ignore the many young men and women in uniform that are walking by. In fact, I've watched people go out of their way not to make eye contact with the troops. GEEZ!
I go out of my way to go up to ANYONE in a uniform. I smile and I say, "I would like to thank you for your service to our country!" Some smile back, and say "thank you", some shake my hand, some have provided a good conversation, and some have given me some real bear hugs...a very few wish I would go away. "Have safe travels," I say and leave them alone. But, the vast majority are pleased that I did it. And, I feel pretty good, too!
Earlier this summer, I was sitting in the 'hurry up and wait' area at a gate, when the lady next to me leaned over and said, "They are so young." When I looked up, I saw two sergeants had come into the area. I got up and walked over to them and thanked them. They each gave me a big hug. When I went back to my seat, the same lady said, "Do you know those boys?" I said, "I do now! And, so do you, they are the men who allow you to sleep safely at night." She got up and moved - obviously not part of the standing ovation crowd. (Unfortunately, she had to deal with me again later.)
I have heard too many stories of military personnel in uniform who are treated like they are invisible in our airports...shame on you, America. The next time you travel, give them a smile, say something nice, let them know that you appreciate what they are doing for you. Be part of the standing ovation crowd!