Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Hero's Welcome

No, it wasn't exactly a ticker tape parade - it was just dessert night at our children's classroom. Some time ago, I wrote a journal about a little boy that my daughter was having some issues with in her classroom, it was entitled "The Hidden Cost of War." It turned out that little Jimmy's behavioral issues stemmed predominantly from the fact that his Daddy was deployed to Iraq and Jimmy was rightly scared and angry about it.

In the months that followed, my daughter and Jimmy have become great friends. They have a lot in common - with both of their father's being military. Sporty understands when Jimmy is sad, afraid and sometimes even angry. She has felt all these things too. She fears for her Daddy when he is gone - she worries for his safety. She is afraid that something bad will happen... sometimes she even asks me if her Daddy is going to die. On rare occasions, like when her best friends moved away, she even gets angry. So, Sporty and Jimmy, they were a good fit because they can relate to one another on so many levels that ordinary children just don't understand.

Tonight was "Dessert Night" at school. All the children were to bring a special dessert to share and proudly display all their work from the last semester for their families. It was an especially exciting night for me as I was looking forward to seeing all of Sporty's work, as well as seeing all the work of the other children that I had helped during writers workshop.

Little by little, the parents trickled in. In the haze of confusion, I notice Jimmy come marching into the room. ( He almost always "marches" - like a soldier) Tonight though, there was something different about Jimmy. He was smiling and his eyes were so full of joy, before I knew it, right behind Jimmy stepped a huge man into the room that I had never seen before. I didn't need an introduction to know that this was the man who Jimmy was so proud of.

As the night went on, parents mingled throughout the room. I took my opportunity to introduce myself to Jimmy's father. " Mr. Tulley? I am Mrs. Schultz. My daughter sits next to your son and they have gotten quite close this year. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for what you have done and wish you a very warm welcome home!" Do you know, tears actually came to his eyes.

He told me that he had heard all about Sporty and what good friends our children had become. He thanked me for offering to help his wife while he was away. He told me about the horrors of the war. He said that he actually would tell people that he was just home from Iraq - just to hear them say "Welcome Home." Thank you was and is apparently an alien concept to most.

I was proud of Sporty, when the night was over she gave him a big hug and said, "Mr. Tulley, I just wanted to say thank you so much for all you did to protect us. I'm really glad you're home." At least my 8 year old gets it.

As we talked, I relayed to Jason ( that's his name) that my husband was also active duty. Do you know what his big concern was? He was concerned with making sure that the children and I had everything we need. He said, "If you need ANYTHING, you don't hesitate to call. I'm real handy and I'll be glad to help." Once a hero, always a hero, I guess.

So the point is, he didn't get the ticker tape parade that his service and sacrifice rightly demand, but he did have a nice welcome home and the smile on his sons face - worth more than a thousands parades. Now if only we could end this war and bring all our loved ones home...


Keri said...

This brought tears to my eyes and a proudness to my heart...


smiley_netta said...

This brought tears to my eyes, and they found their own way down my face. I am so glad for Jimmy that his father is finally home!