SARASOTA – Wearing a T-shirt that read “My Dad is a Hero,” 3-year-old Alexander “Beans” Hernandez tried to sit still, as one speaker after another praised the courage of the National Guard soldiers standing in formation in the center of the room. But with his father only 10 feet away, Beans finally burst out of his chair and gave Master Sgt. Jose Hernandez a hug before family members whispered and motioned for the little boy to return.
Alicia Potts of Orlando gets a heartfelt hug from her nephew, Hunter Francis, 6, during the deployment ceremony. The group of 24 guardsmen will be leaving for Afghanistan, where they will be running radar to keep an eye on American fighter jets and aircraft in the region.
No one in uniform seemed to mind as they greeted with smiles the unscheduled and tender moment Saturday in what was a ceremony filled with pride and solemnity.
I’ve often wondered where do we get such men and women, the people who give up their daily lives, too often their full lives, to travel to far away distant lands, to surround themselves by hateful, barbaric humans, and to do it all for a country that too often ignores them-or worse, uses them as partisan political pawns to boost votes one way or the other. The better query isn’t, “Where do we get such men and women?” No, the better question is,
“Where do we get such loving children?”
Godspeed to those headed into harm’s way, and to those headed home.