A Memorial Day reflection

About 10 years ago or so, I was sitting in the St. Louis airport, waiting to go home for break from seminary. I was reading a magazine, waiting for my flight to be called, others were milling about as others are prone to do at airports.

All of a sudden, there was an ear piercing scream, at which point I and everyone else in the terminal looked up, and a woman was running down the concourse.

Had she been attacked? Was someone in her party dying? Was there a terrorist danger?

No, she had gotten first glimpse of her husband coming through the terminal, and she ran to meet him.

Her husband, now with his wife clinging to him, and the 3 others he was with, were dressed in US Army fatigues. I assume they were just back from deployment, and that their flight had just landed.

That moment has stuck with me these many years later, as has the applause that we gave the men as they made their way down the concourse to the exit.

I often wonder how that woman got into the terminal. If she had been escorted through, if there was a special waver as her husband, a military man, would be arriving. I suppose they could have been meeting in the St. Louis airport, and boarding another flight to go to a mutual destination.

What I remember most vividly, is the scream and the sight of her running to grab hold of her husband, whom it can safely be assumed she had not seen for at least 6 months, and likely much longer than that.

I think about that now for 2 reasons: one is that I am reading American Sniper, and part of the story is how difficult the long deployments were on the family. The second reason is a recent campaign that is probably quite familiar to many of us by now.

The premise is that a returning military man surprises his unsuspecting wife or children in the most unusual of ways. One father, disguised as a catcher, catches the ceremonial first pitch from his son at a Major League Baseball game; after the pitch, he removes the mask and runs toward his son, who is overcome by the moment. In another commercial, a father shows up at school and goes to his children’s classroom to surprise them.

Do not get me wrong; I rejoice with these families that they are reunited after being apart for so long.

But what is the point of these elaborate reveals?

Is it for the entertainment of others? Is it to promote some worthless product in a TV commercial? Is it to remove the guilt of a nation that refuses to make a single sacrifice?

All I can think of is that woman’s scream and that airport reunion scene. And how that woman would have probably tore through the shell of the airplane with her teeth to get to her husband just one minute sooner.

She would have been just as happy if the reunion had occurred on the pitcher’s mound of a Cardinal’s game, or the drive through of a McDonald’s. But why wait one more second than you have to, just so someone else can witness the moment?

I am thankful for the service of our troops, and I pray for their safe returns and happy reunions with their families. But let’s not exploit these reunions for the entertainment of others.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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