May 7, 2004
Be sure to thank a soldier today
You always hear that Texans know how to throw a party, but the welcome home I attended at Ft. Hood recently for the folks of the 4th I.D. was a HUGE PAR-T!!!
This was the first timeother than a few air shows over the yearsI have ever been on a military base. I don't know what I expected to see, but it was surely not what I had imagined. After getting through security you feel like you're in any other nice city in Texas. The only exception...there are a lot of folks that go to the same tailor, because they all seem to like camouflage.
Now that I scoped out the new neighborhood, I figured this celebration was going to rank somewhere between a hoo-ha and a wing-ding probably a little of both considering the fact there were over 50,000 people there.
You knew it was a big deal, when after getting press credentials, you walked out and it looked like a used satellite uplink lot. I don't recall seeing as many remote TV satellite trucks in one place. The major networks were there as well as all of the cable news folks and most TV stations between San Antonio and Dallas.
The Ft. Hood people were there to welcome us and tell us where we could stand and where the TV and newspaper folks could get the best pictures. I was there not only to pick up radio interviews, but to snap pictures for our publications.
What a day! Just being close to the people that had a hand in capturing Saddam Hussein was a real honor.
When the ceremonies were over, reporters had a chance to interview some of the troops. I had been standing next to a 4th I.D. soldier and asked him if he would visit with me.
The first thing that struck me is how young these people areyet, they were professional and focused on their jobs. These people have seen and endured things we can only imagine from TV images we have seen over the last year.
I also had the pleasure to interview a young Captain and she too, was so interesting to talk with.
Both soldiers told me that we can be sure we're seeing the absolute worst of what goes on over there in Iraq on our nightly news. They said what you don't see are the people that thanked us on a daily basis for helping making their life better and the nice gestures like little kids running to give them food or water.
The soldiers had been briefed on what to expect when arriving in Iraq. Anyone who grew up on the Texas South Plains would know how to cope with the sand storms. But no one was ready for the extreme poverty.
After my interviews were over, I couldn't help but think how lucky we all have it here and how we all moan and complain how bad things are. We have no clue!
We certainly should be thankful every day for the men and women that make it their job keeping us free.