The long trip home PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paula   
Saturday, 24 February 2007 22:54

I tend to get a little wacky while traveling home.  The hours of plane flight with swollen feet and the endless people watching while behind international airport security make everything seem, well, wacky.  Tens of thousands of people subjected to obsurd security measures.  No one is immune.  A fellow traveler called it sheep dipping.  It's when you find one tic on a one sheep in a thousand and decide to dip all thousand.  A bit overkill but, hey, what are our tax dollars for, certianly not for education or greenhouse gas reduction.

It was 6:30AM at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.  I had just checked through immagration and customs to find my self, once again, outside security.  Sort of a welcome home and oh by the way, you have to go through security again.  We want to make sure, that you are not a terrorist.  I made my way to the domestic terminals and my flight back to Seattle.  Standing in the all to familiar security line, I found my self between a bunch of kids.  Kids in uniforms.  Desert fatigues.  

They had all just come from the International terminal.  A few seemed a bit mistified by security's request that they take off their military issue boots so that they could be passed through scanners.  Two others were fingered for search and sniff of their camo backpacks.  All looked dead tired, sort of like me.

Well, it turns out that a few are heading to Seattle.  In a most Texan/southern form the podeum people at the gate announced that these brave girls and boys are on a two week leave from Iraq.  They are told to board first, along with first class. 

I was fortunate to sit next to one of these soldiers.  A black boy with satin skin and full desert camo.  His boots, just like all the other soldiers boots, looked way to comfortable.  Not like my recollection of the boots worn by soldiers during Vietnam, the last time I sat next to a soldier.  The planes commander blared through the cabin 'I just want to thank all of you soldiers for your bravery.  I want to give you thanks from myself and my family'.  The cabin errupted in applause.  

A thought passed through my mind.  What would I have said on that intercom.  I knew.  I knew what I would say if I were asked by one of the soldiers, what did I think, what was my opinion.

'yeaachooo' I sneezed at the change in air.   'God Bless'.  from my row companion.

I spent some time thinking about what to say to this soldier.  He was getting away from the war.  I didn't want to take him back there. 

It was an hour into the flight before I turned to the soldier sitting next to me and asked how long he had been traveling.   'Eight months'. 

'Ah, but how long have you been traveling here, and to Seattle'

'Oh!, Ah seventeen hours or so.  A flight from Iraq to Ireland, then to Dallas'

He looked tired.  Not from the flights, just tired. 

'Whats the first thing you are going to do when you get home?'

'Sleep!, lots of sleep'

prodding away, further away from the war, 

'and what will be the second thing you do when you get home?'

His eyes lit up and life seem to warm through him.

'I'm going to have a baby, I mean, my wife is having a baby boy any minute.  I sure hope I make it home in time.  Got lots of things to go out an buy.'

I saw the warmth of a smile and glow in his eyes.  A bit of happiness, a moment away from war.  

'Congratulations!, you are in for the time of your life.'

We went quiet for a while.  

Five minutes went by.  The soldier turned to me and asked 'Would you mind?  Do you have an opnion on the war?'

 'Yes, I mean, I don't mind.  I remember, during the commanders intercomm announcement, thinking, what would I have said.'

'I would have said Thank you.  You are doing a fantastic job and should be very proud but I want to appologize.  As an American citizen, I want to appologize for putting you in harms way.  I should have done more to stop this Iraq war from happening.  I've voted and written my Senators since 911.  I hoped that wise decisions would be made.  We should have been fighting against terrorism, not Iraq."

He paused.  "you don't have to appologize.  I just like to know what people think about the war."

"Well, we can't just get out know.  We need you all to be there for a while longer.  It looks like wise decisions are starting to be made.  That Mr. Bush will be forced into wise choices'

'I hope so' he said, 'I want to see my  boy grow up'.

My soldier companion and I wished each other well as we got off the plane in Seattle.  It was a strange ending to my vacation.

Last Updated on Monday, 26 February 2007 19:34