Monday, November 3, 2008

Where Warriors Walk

At Ft. Stewart, Cottrell Field is a special place. This is the field where returning soldiers march to their anxious families for a long awaited reunion. There are babies who meet their Dads for the first time on this field (David first met Spencer there. . ). There are homemade signs and waving flags. There are bands and families who drive from all over the country to see their soldier return home. It is a magical place for these families and their soldiers.

As soon as we got back to Ft. Stewart last week, I started pointing it out to Jessa and Spencer as the place for Daddy's Welcome Home Ceremony. They recognize it each time we drive by and get so excited. They have been planning his Welcome Home since he left! Jessa wants to make him a special cake and a special supper. And we already ordered his sign. We really are counting the minutes. They both have missed him so much.

What a good looking soldier, right?!

Cottrell Field is more than just a place for homecomings and reunions and parades. The field is now surrounded by a memorial called "Warrior's Walk." It started during the first part of the war when the 3d ID was the "tip of the spear" taking Baghdad by storm. A tree was planted to honor the life of each fallen soldier from the 3d ID. They are beautiful trees with a name plate honoring the life of these heroes. There are American Flags and unit flags. Sometimes the families decorate the trees with ornaments or wind chimes. The trees are lighted at night, and in the dark, they are quite breathtaking.

There is a ceremony to dedicate the trees (usually once a month). The families are invited to see the trees and hear the names of their soldier read aloud as each life is honored. I have attended many of these ceremonies, and they are so special. Many times they are after the memorials or funerals, so the families have had some time to start to heal.

The trees being placed lining Cottrell Field is deliberate. It is a place for Homecomings. And it celebrates every soldier coming home, even if in spirit only.

Originally, the trees were only on one side, but sadly, the walk has been expanded to surround the field. Now there are several sidewalks and posts to mark each entrance. They also have maps to help visitors locate particular trees.

I am so touched that Ft. Stewart and the Army have chosen such a special way to honor the lives of these soldiers and to show their families how much we all appreciate their sacrifices. I wanted to share this tribute with all of you. We all want a happy reunion on Cottrell Field after a deployment. But I am glad that the families who do not get the reunion they planned and hoped for can at least have a living memorial to their loved ones. I honor these brave soldiers and their families. The kiddos and I visited "Warrior's Walk" this weekend. I am teaching Jessa and Spencer to be grateful to live in such a wonderful country where we are free to live wonderful lives. I also want them to be grateful for these heroes who died protecting our freedom.
I know I am.

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