Today I saw a hero

While driving to a music store in a neighboring small town, we drove down main street and noticed lots and lots of people lining the streets as though they were waiting for a parade.  
They all stared down the street looking for something.  
Many were wearing red.  
Most had American Flags.
Restaurants like Arctic Circle, Maceys, and Carls Junior even had their employees lining the streets.
Several veterans were in full uniform.
Scouts were in uniform.
One of my kids suggested they might be waiting for a Memorial Day Parade.  
Unlikely, but stranger things have happened, I suppose.
My guess was that an important person was visiting and the town people came out to show respect.

After looking around, buying a book and a guitar, I asked the clerk why people were lining the streets.

The answer was not what I had expected.

A soldier in Afghanistan had died and they were bringing his body home.

My heart dropped.
It all made sense.
As I started to drive home, 
I made a decision, 
pulled the car over,
and told the kids to follow me.
I decided to take just five minutes.
If he didn't come soon, then we would leave.
We waited.
My gratitude grew.
I decided that we would wait all afternoon if we had to.
Someone had lost their son and I wanted them to see that I honored and appreciated their 
So we waited.
And with so many others
we stopped our day.
We changed our plans
because it was such a small thing for us to do.

After the road was cleared,
there was quiet.
A little moment.

Then a highway patrol car led about 15 state troopers on motorcycles to announce that someone import was coming.  
A Hurst slowly followed them. 
It was white.
You could see the casket,
covered with the stripes of freedom.
And the sight felt slightly suffocating to me.
Feelings of pride and intense sadness attached to my heart.
I didn't know this soldier,
but I know that the cars that followed him were his family
and they were following their son,
their brother
their love.

As the family drove by,
I hoped they were touched by our efforts. 
I hoped that they felt our love.

Then, not just a few, but dozens of service vehicles and dozens of Patriot Guard Riders 
passed by,
in a whisper,
in respect,
in support.
It was an emotional moment.

Those who rode in the procession and those who stood at the side of the road were all there for the soldier, for his family and for our country.
We didn't take away the pain,
but they knew that by being there we were saying thank you.

As tears curled under my chin, a woman in one of the cars of the family members,
looked out and mouthed the words, "Thank you."

She thanked me for being there.
My hope for today is for her to know that it is her who I would like to thank.
It is her who I will be praying for tonight.
It is her who I cry for as I write this.
To all the military families I say Thank You.

Today I saw a hero.


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