Today I went to the airport to give a weather briefing to some pilots. This is part of my job as a weather forecaster with the Air Force. At many airports around the country the National Guard and civilian airport are often co-located and so it is here in Austin as well.
When I arrived I got to witness and be part of the welcome for a young man coming home from Afghanistan.
I got to see his family and a good number of Army aviators and soldiers waiting for him. There were even some police and firemen waiting to welcome him home.
I stood in line and watched the small chartered jet taxi down the runway and watched as two fire trucks from the airport sprayed a triumphal arch under which his plane slowly proceeded.
I watched as the hatch opened and soldiers moved forward and reached out their arms toward him and escorted him, slowly yet purposefully, toward his car and his family.
I watched as they gingerly helped him into the car and as they stood at attention and saluted while his luggage, some hanging clothes and his backpack, were placed in the trunk of another car that his family got in.
I watched and saluted as the flag draped coffin drove by
and I knew that there, but for the grace of God go I.
And we all knew that truth and this:
That this young man was coming home.