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.

7 Responses to “Celebrations”

  1. 1 Paula February 8, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I’m glad your son is home safe with you. Tell him thank you from my family and myself for all he has done for each of us. I have 4 boys and I know chances are good that one or all will serve in the armed forces in the future. I feel for you and family, Once again grateful on your behalf for his return! You should see if that portion of the news was recorded on youtube or the news website. Well, I’m sure you can do it from the DVR. You should post it.

  2. 3 Sheri February 8, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    you forgot about me… ;;

    I supported Oldest Son too….=P

  3. 5 So Much More Than A Mom February 10, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    It IS great that he is home and safe. It is also great that such a public celebration was held to honor them. How bittersweet to also have the boys being deployed there. I would have been a wreck.

  4. 6 Kathleen February 25, 2009 at 9:05 am

    That is so great that the men and women who serve are getting the thanks they serve. Harry’s reserve unit is being called up for deployment to Somalia at the end of this year. I had hoped my days of worry were over when he came out of Active – but I guess that is not to be. Of course, he is excited to serve – I’m amazed at the patriotism that I see from some of the men and women his age – and it gives me hope in our country that they understand what it is our country is able to do to help the oppressed of the world learn to stand up for themselves.

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