This is Chris. He's the son of my friend, Rosi. When our boys were little, they went to the same school, and they were in Cub Scouts together. Now, Chris is the first young man going off to war that I knew as a little boy. That makes Rosi the first mom of a soldier that I know personally.
She sent me an email with a link to his photo taken just before he left US soil by the Maine Troop Greeters.
A Little About Maine Troop Greeters (from their website)
Bangor, Maine is the first and last stop on U.S. soil for hundreds of thousands of soldiers going off to war. A dedicated group of Mainers have been putting their politics aside to say Thank you to our troops virtually every day. The planes arrive with little notice at all hours of the day and night but that does not stop the greeters. When the call comes they are up, dressed, out the door, and waiting to greet the soldiers when they touch down at the Bangor airport.
Welcoming troops started as long ago as 1991 with hundreds of people gathering to greet and praise our heroes, however, when flights en route to and from Iraq and Afghanistan started in 2003 the Greeters needed to become more organized for security reason. This is when the airport, chamber of commerce, and local veterans organizations took the lead and made it possible for the greeters, (sometimes a dozen - sometimes many dozens) to do what they do best.
Each and every plane, carrying one or more soldiers, has been met with cheers, applause, salutes, and handshakes; these strangers giving warriors love and gratitude they so truly deserved. They will find cookies, candies,toiletries, books and cell phones (for free calls home) in the old duty-free shop that has now become their welcome -center. You will find none of the indifference or hostility here that some of the Vietnam vets faced. These Maine Greeters are determined that troops are met with respect and appreciation.
"We all should have gumption enough to say thanks for what they are doing for us," states WW2 veteran, 84 year old Bill Knight. Knight, a Bangor resident says, "What could I possibly have to do with my life that could mean more then seeing that the troops are treated right?"
Knight, like all the Greeters, is there when the troops arrive and stays with them, talking, sharing, listening, and supporting them until they reboard their planes. God Bless our troops and God Bless The Maine Troop Greeters. Check out their website: http://www.mainetroopgreeters.com/