Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heroes in the flesh

Cartoon heroes are as much a part of childhood as grilled cheese sandwiches and crayons. But real, live heroes in this day and age seem to be hard to come by. Unless you look at life through the eyes of a child.

It wasn’t that long ago I was on yet another road trip with my kids. They are hardy travelers; 400-500 miles hardly fazes them. On stops for gas and such, they mobilize like a military unit on assault. They hit the restroom, grab their snacks and drinks, and are waiting for me to pay before I’m even done pumping the gas.

On this most recent trip, we ran into several members of a National Guard Unit who were heading home on leave. They had stopped off at the same truck stop we were taking a break at.

I noticed three of the young men pause at the door to let my kids in first, and they fell into step behind.

I finished topping off the gas and headed inside to pay when I saw my three kiddos peeking around the aisle eyeballing the three Guardsmen. The mother in me became irritated because I didn’t like the “sneaky” way they were staring.

Just about the time I was ready to jerk a knot in three tail ends, they started walking toward the Guardsmen. My oldest son, Kade, led the pack right up to the threesome and stuck out his hand.

“You guys are so cool,” I heard Kade say with a lopsided grin as he shook the first one’s hand. “I want to be a fighter pilot when I grow up and serve my country like you guys do.”

Jake and Samantha nodded their heads enthusiastically.

They were face to face with their heroes – in the flesh.

I stood there and watched the six of them chat for a minute. They were all smiling. I was, too. But I was also fighting back tears.

I knew that when Kade, Jake and Sam worked up the nerve to approach the Guardsmen, it was a genuine effort to engage their “heroes” – men they truthfully admire and want to be like. What mother wouldn’t be proud?

My kids draw cards and write letters for the care packages made possible by the Truckers for Troops telethon. Their admiration for the men and women serving our country is obvious in every one that they do. And those cards and letter make a big impact.

But, this isn’t something for just my kids to do. Your kids – and you for that matter – can make cards and write letters of support to be included in the care packages. You’ll enjoy seeing the pride your children have in their country and the men and women who serve. And it will brighten the day of troops receiving the care packages.

If you want to participate, just send the cards and letters to:

Attn. Norita Taylor
P.O. Box 1000
Grain Valley, MO 64029