Julie Anne Rhodes with mom in 1968

He smiled as our eyes met, a handsome young air force pilot looking resplendent in his uniform. I know the military look is “in” this year, but I’d never taken particular notice of men in uniform before, except for the horror tinged awe I felt as a child watching the soldiers go off to Vietnam.

Tatjana and Julie Anne Rhodes, 1988

As I took my seat I couldn’t help thinking how young he looked – younger than my own daughter. I couldn’t begin to imagine the unthinkable. My uncle served in Korea before I was born, but other than that none of my family or close friends have served in the armed services.

Once the plane began to circle Des Moines, I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. It felt good to be home, and I was looking forward to seeing my parents and their anxiously awaiting open arms. Considering how I left as young as possible, and spent most of my adult life avoiding my home town, this too struck me as odd.
Happy to be home with mom and dad
Then the pilot announced we would be landing shortly, but would everyone please remain seated until a special serviceman left the plane first. I turned to look at him, and heard him say “there they are” as he swallowed deeply. My eyes followed his gaze to the group of people and a hearse waiting on the tarmac that he was referring to. Then it hit me – the uniform that had caught my eye was his dress uniform. He was escorting his best friend home on what should have been the friend’s 21st birthday.
Unlike the usual shoving, heaving race to deplane, we all sat perfectly still with tears streaming down our faces as we watched the dead soldier’s mother throw her arms around the young air force pilot, leaning into him to keep from collapsing. All of us unwitting voyeurs into their private grief. I am now, no longer able to feel removed from the tremendous sacrifice of war. We watched as he saluted the casket being removed from the plane, then in deafening silence, I too deplaned – with the image of that brave soldier and grieving mother emblazoned across my heart forever.
Tatjana and Julie Anne Rhodes
Instead of a recipe today, all I can offer (as cliche and naive as it may sound) is a heart felt recipe for hope. If we could all just feel beyond our own families, and care as much about the daughters and sons of all families universally – there will come a day that mothers won’t have to grieve the loss of their brave children. Let there be peace on earth.
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  • September 18, 2010
    12:26 pm

    Amen to that

    Reply
  • September 18, 2010
    1:00 pm

    What a wise, tender and hopeful post. Thank you.

    Reply
  • September 18, 2010
    3:57 pm

    Blessings on that note julie anne.

    Reply
  • September 18, 2010
    8:55 pm

    Well put, well said, here's to the hope you expressed!Justine Owls

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    2:24 am

    I'll second that. Amen.

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    3:56 am

    beautifully put. I can't imagine.Have a nice trip home.

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    12:31 pm

    Very well put indeed Julie Anne. Absolutely beautiful.With that, here is a saying from my "little book of HOPE"……..We are each of us angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another.Aussie Mum

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    3:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I pray your wishes are answered.Morgan Raymond

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    3:37 pm

    There will be no peace in this world until all of us find peace in our hearts.Lift your fists in angry criesFor those who lived but made you dieStifle their voice, slay their violenceQuiet their hatred, soften their heartsSilence the guns and clear the smokeHide the blood, pick up the deadForget the cries, bury the painLet it all vanish, bring in the peaceDry the clouds, dress up the sunQuiet the leaves, muffle the noiseShut down the winds, gather the dovesBrighten the skies, let the gray winter dieGive birth to love, hold peace's handEmbrace mothers and sisters, hug fathers and sonsConsole widows and orphans, heal my brother's painLet tears soothe our broken hearts, let war die a peaceful deathLuis Barrera

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    4:21 pm

    Stunning and thoughtful words, Julie Anne. I will carry this post in my mind for a long time to come.Angela

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    5:31 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous Luis!

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    5:31 pm

    i always enjoy reading your blog, but this one made me cry………..thank you for thatLaura Petersen

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    5:32 pm

    There's no place like home!Sharon McConnell Worster

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    5:33 pm

    So lovely!Darci DeBruyn Davis

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    5:33 pm

    you write beautifully Julie Anne .. very touching .. xLisa I'anson

    Reply
  • September 19, 2010
    5:34 pm

    Jewels, this had me crying in my breakfast. An important message that is beautifully written.Patti Anastasia

    Reply
  • September 20, 2010
    12:31 am

    Wow…Yassi Castilla

    Reply
  • September 20, 2010
    1:21 am

    what a great family photo only missing Titch!!!!Marina Fields

    Reply
  • September 20, 2010
    2:30 am

    Truly beautiful and moving post. I am touched and speechless.M.

    Reply
  • September 20, 2010
    3:12 am

    I love your quote from the little book of hope Aussie Mum! Perfect analogy!

    Reply
  • September 20, 2010
    3:48 am

    Very lovely …If only there could be no more wars.

    Reply
  • September 21, 2010
    2:33 am

    I had tears in my eyes as I read today's blog. Our lives seem to be punctuated by the senseless loss of life. I hope that in our lifetime that we will see peace in all nations, sharing of resources so that all may not only prosper, but learn "the how". How to live a life that shows respect to all, how to share so that all may eat nutritious food, how to love so that we learn to love all mankind regardless of race, creed or colour. We all have so much to learn, but first on our list should be for us all to prioritize our lives and place loving and caring for all at the top of the list. My prayers go out to the bereaved family and to the comrade who escorted his best friend home in that last act of true friendship. We should all be so honoured to be able to provide that kind of friendship in a time of need.

    Reply
  • September 21, 2010
    3:47 am

    This is especially touching (I still have a lump in my throat) because my only nephew is heading back to Iraq on his 2nd tour of duty.Jan Harding

    Reply
  • September 22, 2010
    10:40 am

    I had goosebumps and then a tear. How very touching this must have been. How can we ever say thank you enough for those people brave enough to fight for freedom around the world? It isn't possible. But what we can have is respect, and that I have oodles of.~April

    Reply
  • April 28, 2011
    5:00 pm

    Absolutely beautiful…this touched me so much that I feel I must share a personal story:

    My baby brother, Capt. Darby Boudreaux, is the commanding officer of the Louisiana National Guard 926th Engineer Company (MAC), is deploying to Afghanistan. This will be his 3rd tour of duty.

    He was gravely wounded in 2005 by an IED explosion in Iraq…we came very close to losing him. After a very long and difficult recovery, he chose to redeploy in 2008.

    I pray that the war ends soon and that everyone returns home safely.

    Reply
  • April 28, 2011
    5:47 pm

    I’m so happy you shared this story, so now we can all keep his safe return home in our prayers. What a brave man he is, and how lucky we are to have him.

    Reply

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