Welcome Home and Thank You [VIDEO/PHOTOS]
The Maine Army National Guard's 133rd Engineer Battalion returned home yesterday in Augusta after serving our country. I wanted to be there to show my support and appreciation. What an amazing thing it was to be there.
Yesterday, 165 Mainers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, cousins, neighbors and friends returned to Maine from Afghanistan. I was extremely proud and very lucky to be able to be there to help welcome them home.
I didn't film or shoot everything I saw. I didn't want to. I wanted to just be there and experience this special time and show my support and appreciation. I did capture some quick moments though that I thought would be nice for people to see and hopefully give them a chance to think and appreciate what these people do for us everyday, without question.
There were some wonderful moments yesterday. Father's holding their babies high in the air. Babies that were probably just born around the time they left. I saw one man say to his daughter, "You've grown so much sweetie". The daughter held her iPAD she was using to take pictures and became shy. It was something you see in a commercial, but it was real and it was two feet in front of me. To have that window to see things like that yesterday; I honestly don't think I deserved it. I couldn't film or snap pics of those moments. Those were special times for them to hold close to themselves. I actually felt a bit guilty for being a fly on the wall, but boy was there a feeling of pride rushing over me.
The entrance was as you can imagine an explosion of emotion, joy, relief and patriotism. The US Army band was playing patriotic marches and little kids were raised up on shoulders. To see these good people walk in proud and confident like they did, facing us on the stage almost like a cast at the end of a show - well, let me say it was the best production anyone in that room will ever see. This was really getting to me at this point seeing this.
I wanted to include this brief video clip because I know it will make you feel great and proud as I was.
About a year ago, I wished the best to a good guy who works in our building here at One City Center in Portland. Mark Thibault is also a major CYY freak. Exactly a year ago I wished him well just before he shipped out overseas. That was weird to say goodbye to him and think of what he might possibly deal with over the next year to come. He was focused and ready to go though. Takes a special person I will say that much my friends. Those are people that have something amazing inside them.
This is Mark and I here at CYY in the lobby back in July 2013, just before he left.
Mark's fiance Cassie, who also works here kept me in the loop with our buddy all year long. Letting me know how he was and that he was streaming CYY every chance he could. When I heard Mark was going to be heading back home, I told Cassie I'd really like to be there for his landing if it was ok. I wanted to be there for Mark and for everyone else returning to Maine that sacrificed everything for me and all of you reading this. She welcomed me to join her and their family kindly and kept me in the loop with updates on his arrival over the past two weeks, as it changed a lot. Eventually, we got the word they'd be arriving to Augusta yesterday Tuesday July 1st between Noon and 2pm. I went north immediately and I can't say how glad I am that I did. Yesterday is a day I will never forget. Those amazing people with something special in them looking back at me, I will never forget. They didn't know me from a hole in the wall, but they did what they did for me and all of you without question.
Leaving to head back to my car I kept walking by folks with their dufflebags hanging off their shoulder and their parents or wives or husbands or kids attached to the other shoulder. I made sure I said "welcome home" to each and every one I saw. They ALL would reply with the same, "Thank you sir". As much as I appreciated the response I'm not sure I deserve the sir and I certainly don't deserve the thank you in this case.
This is me with Mark Thibault, August Maine July 1st 2014
Yesterday as these 165 men and women came back home to Maine, over U.S. service members were sent back to Iraq.
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