Welcome Home Great American Hero


Last night I had an amazing opportunity to see one of my friends come in from Afghanistan. Last year Jordan served our church at Xtreme for a few months by being our interim pastor until he deployed. It was a late flight and me and some friends from church along with his wife who drove around 15 hours to get here from New York to get here just in time to see his plane land and the soldiers step off.

I’m still trying to unpack this whole experience. We got there and the place was full of families and friends. We had to wait for the plane to land and they had us walk outside to see the plane land and the soldiers step out. We walked back in and prepared for them to march in. After a few words from one of the officers (at least I guess that’s what he was) they released them to see the families. We tried to hide Sarah but Jordan said he felt she was there and had seen her as well. Regardless they held each other like time was nonexistent.

I stood there and soaked it all in trying to imagine my own feeling if I had been separated from Carrie and Levi for a year. I watched a soldier hold his newborn son for the first time. I watch another soldier hold his son… wait. More like his three-year old son would not let go. I thought about those who didn’t have families and just stood at the stage waiting to be reformed for debriefing.

My mind skipped to life in the desert for a year as I watched the soldiers hug each other as a secondary family member. I thought about how these soldiers probably know more about each other than their own spouses. As each soldier probably talked about family back home, now their counterparts were able to put a face with stories that were told through sand storms and down time as they were introduced in that hangar.

I tried to wrap my mind and heart around the sacrifices of those who go over there and live in life of danger as bullets and bombs are exploding and flying around their heads. Some never come back and to stand there and see a group of men where maybe some are missing was very humbling. A number goes over and a select few come back early with flags draped over their casket. I’m thankful beyond imagine for those fighting for my freedom. They take an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States and obey the orders of the President of the United States.

If you’re a soldier past or present; THANK YOU. I could never do what you did or are doing. I never did and I thank you!

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About Kevin Riner
child of grace, worshiper of Jesus, husband, father, Associate Pastor of GraceLife Church, author of Faith Debugged, musician and baseball enthusiast

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