Gill forwarded me the following email and wrote in the subject line, "pukey sentimental hoax (I hope it's not real)."
Will you give this to my Daddy?
Last week I was in Atlanta, Georgia attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen.
Moving thru the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camos. As they began heading to their gate, everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering.
When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for, it hit me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red-blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families.
Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear or reprisal.
Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our service men and women, a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old ran up to one of the male soldiers. He kneeled down and said 'hi.'
The little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her.
The young soldier, who didn't look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try and what did she want to give to her daddy. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek.
The mother of the little girl, who said her daughter's name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter Courtney missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up.
When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other service men pulled out a military-looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it.
After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, 'I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you.' He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying 'your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon.'
The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet, he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than 6 feet away from this entire event.
As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of selflessness, turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.
We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it's good to be an American.
This one has been going around for a couple of years. Snopes
covered it back in 2006, listing it as undetermined. They note that two additional versions of the story have been spotted in circulation -- one placing the touching scene in Trenton, Ontario, the other in Melbourne, Australia. Snopes suggests that the Atlanta version is probably the original, and this is almost certainly correct.
When I first read the email, I had the same reaction as Gill. It's over-the-top schmaltz. It's too corny to be real. But now I'm not so sure.
It turns out that the Atlanta airport has a tradition of applauding the troops. I don't know if it still happens, but as late as 2007 it definitely was. Youtube has plenty of videos
of troops being applauded at the Atlanta airport. The description attached to one of these videos
notes that, "Several times a day the Atlanta airport gives thanks to the troops that are protecting our freedom as they march through the terminal."
The Atlanta tradition even inspired the famous Anheuser-Busch "Applause" ad
that aired during the 2005 Super Bowl and the 2005 Daytona 500.
So given that the part about applauding the troops at the Atlanta airport checks out, it's not that implausible that the Courtney scene might have occurred. Yeah, it could be the invention of someone who had seen the Anheuser-Busch ad, but I'd say the probability of the scene being real is pretty good. Of course, that makes it no less cloyingly sentimental.