Archive for February 8th, 2009

Celebrations

Big Daddy was watching TV last night when all of a sudden he yelled to us to come in.  “We’re on the news,” he said, as Oldest Son and I ran in.  (This is one time DVR was really handy because we could rewind and see what we missed).

On screen was a portion of the event that we had attended earlier that day.  It was a return home celebration for my son and the other members of his reserve unit that had just returned from Iraq in November.  It was held in the big impressive old building which houses the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.  Each returning soldier was recognized, we were shown some slides of their time in Iraq, and later treated to a light lunch.  There was also a group of soldiers sitting across the aisle from the new returnees that are scheduled to be deployed soon.  I couldn’t help but glance over at them and think about the year they and their families were in for.  Hopefully, these soldiers will be as adventurous as my son.  Although he had some trying moments over there and missed a lot of the comforts of home, I think for him it was easier than it was on us.

Our soldiers were escorted to the ceremony from their unit headquarters by the Patriot Guard Riders of Pennsylvania and members of the Pittsburgh police, who had also cordoned off some streets to provide free parking for our soldiers near the museum.  It’s so wonderful how supportive people are of our military, but it breaks my heart to think about the young soldiers that did not receive the hero’s welcome they deserved during the Vietnam era.  No matter what people think about the conflicts we’re involved in, where would our country be if everyone decided to run away instead of defending our way of life?

Yesterday could not have been a better day to hold this celebration.  After weeks of dreary cold weather and snow, the sun was shining and the temperature reached the mid-50’s.  The dirty snow was melting away and we could finally see some grass again.

As we drove through the streets of Oakland on our way home, young people were everywhere celebrating the beautiful day.  Oakland is College City.  It’s comprised mostly of University of Pittsburgh campus buildings and student housing.  We also passed Chatham University, and Carnegie Mellon University is nearby.   Groups of students were milling around.  Street vendors were selling their wares.  The youthful energy was invigorating.

I could almost remember how I felt when I first arrived at my college campus years ago.  The possibilities seemed endless.  Young studs strutting the street (Yikes, now they’re my sons’ ages) and young women jogging in shorts (I had my coat on) just let me relive for a moment how it felt when everything was still so new and uncharted.  Now, if only I could go back with all the wisdom and self-confidence that I’ve gained since I was one of them.


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