August 23, 2010

The American Spirit

          Last Friday evening I had the opportunity to witness something amazing. And it happened completely by accident. We had been staying out at the beach while my husband was on vacation. But I had to return to the house for something.
          As I turned on to the street that leads to our subdivision, I was taken aback to see thousands of people lining both sides of the street. They were all holding American flags and homemade signs. There were police cars everywhere. And then I remembered; the marine was coming home today.
          Someone had left a flyer on our front door. A young marine who had been injured in Afghanistan was coming home for his 21st birthday. And, it turned out, his family lives around the corner from us.
          When the weather is good and we walk the neighborhood, we go right by their house. I have exchanged pleasantries with his father many times, though I do not know them well. The flyer asked that people come out to show support. I was sorry we would not be home to do so.
          Then I ended up stopping by the house just in time for the motorcade. All our neighbors were out in their yards with chairs, holding flags and signs. I ran up to my daughter's room and grabbed her little American flag. I plopped her in a chair with a juice box and some Goldfish and told her to wave her flag for the soldier:
          Within minutes, the motorcade was headed down our street. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. It began with police motorcycles. And some official-looking vehicles. The marine's father, who had driven him back from Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland, went by in his truck.
           And then Tyler, the young marine, passed by riding in the sidecar of a motorcycle. You would never know from the smile on his face that he had lost both his legs and one arm. He looked incredibly happy and proud, and waved at us as he went by.
          He was followed by more than 200 motorcycles who met him at the state line and escorted him home, as this video (taken with my iPhone) shows:
          I had goosebumps. It was incredibly moving; to see such a display of the American spirit. Thousands of people who have never met this young marine or each other came together to show their support. They cheered him on alongside his friends and neighbors.
          People of all political persuasions (and I can tell you that our neighbors run the gamut in that regard), putting those differences aside to welcome home a hero. Perhaps the most touching image for me was the lone marine standing at attention in a driveway a few houses down from us in his dress uniform.
          My daughter will never remember this experience, and she is too young to understand what it meant. But I was glad she was there to witness it. I wrote in an earlier post how proud I am to be an American. I want to instill that in her. I want the American spirit to run in her veins, too.

If you would like to learn more about the story of Tyler Southern, including a photo slideshow and professional video that provide a much better feel for the event, click here.


  1. Helping out your blog stats!! ;)

    What an awesome thing that must have been to see! My brother is career USMC (he's now an officer, stationed in Japan with his pregnant wife and two daughters!) and I am envious of the way that Marines (and all military I suppose) stand together for each other. It's awe inspiring.

    If only the rest of us could behave this way when there are *not* wounded Marines to call us to action....

  2. Just reading your post gave ME goosebumps. I love seeing that kind of support for our military. They do so much for us, and deserve all the support we can give them. :)

  3. This brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful experience.

  4. I'm totally in tears. It amazes me every single day the liberties we take for granted just having been born American. God bless that boy and thank you so much for sharing.

  5. WOW. I am teary too. What a wonderful celebration you were blessed to be a part of. Thank you for this post!!

  6. I am not a fan of war, but I am a huge fan of supporting the brave men and women that fight for freedom every day! Great post!

  7. Thank you for sharing. That was great.

  8. Yes, I too just read that through the tears in my eyes. My step-son leaves for Marine boot camp on December 6.

    I am so happy your neighbors did that for that young man.

  9. I saw that through another friend and it made me cry the first time, and again here reading it from you. It was kind of nostalgic though because another friend of mine had just recently posted about how the single guys come home from deployment to nobody and nothing. Reading that from my friend, then seeing this wonderful homecoming celebration (and yes, I know, it's very different), really made me wonder why there aren't more people out there waving flags for our boys coming home. I'm glad you were able to be a part of his day.

  10. This just made me cry. Thanks for sharing it. What a great value to instill in your daughter.

  11. I apologize for making you all cry. But I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Thank you for your comments!

  12. A well-deserved welcome for someone who sacrificed so much for us. I hope his transition home goes smoothly, and am glad to see that he has such a warm support group surrounding him. Thanks for sharing this, it was amazing to watch!

  13. This totally made me tear up. How lovely. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

    P.S. Hrm. It seems I can comment now. Silly, fickle technology. ;)

  14. Great post. Brings tears to my eyes. His parents must be so proud.

  15. I'm always so encouraged to see people supporting the men and women who serve this country. Thank you for leading me here. What a wonderful tribute.

  16. My brother is a US Marine and while on his 2 tours in Iraq I dreaded every day and night that the phone would ring and it'd be one of my parents telling me something horrible had happened to my brother. Luckily nothing ever did and he is still proudly serving.

    I am so glad that you were able to share this with your daughter and your community. This is such an amazing story and I hope there are well deserved displays of patriotism and appreciation in other communities the way yours did.

    Awesome. Thank you.

  17. Wow, that's so fantastic how your neighborhood came together to welcome him home - my mom's very active in the USO and I've gone with her to meet honor flights and there's just something about those things that just makes you feel all proud and gooey inside.

  18. This is a terrific post, I see why you chose it for the Red Dress link up.
    What a sight for sure.


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