Welcoming Home WWII Vets
My family and I attended the welcome home party for about 102 WWII veterans from their Flight of Honor experience in Washington, DC this week. What a great party. The Broughton High School band played patriotic songs for at least an hour. Friends and family members waved flags, banners, and signs bearing messages like, “Welcome home, Granddad!” “Hubert is our Hero!” “We love you, Grandma!” Poster sized portraits of handsome young men and beautiful young women flanked the area at the airport around the moving sidewalk that glided the veterans through the crowd of well-wishers. Many tears and many cheers greeted these special Americans.
I noticed a veteran with what I thought was a birthmark on his cheek. Another one moved passed me with the same reddish feature on his cheek. The realization hit me late that the birthmarks were actually kisses. Almost all of the veterans sported lipstick kisses on both cheeks.
My uncle, Leon Howell, Pearl Harbor survivor and widower of my Aunt Myrtle, had both cheeks branded and a grin stretching from ear to ear when I spotted him. He’d had a great day, as usual.
Most of the veterans responded to our thank yous with, “Thank you for coming.” “Thank you for being here.” How gracious. How humble. How exactly like the young people they were when they sacrificed so much so many years ago for all of us. The Greatest Generation indeed.