Pukey sentimental hoax or real event?

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.


Posted on Wed Jun 04, 2008


I think it's a sad comment on our society that this story (real or not) would be considered "cloyingly sentimental". Very sad.
Posted by Melvin Melman  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  01:17 PM
I think it's a sad comment on our society that anyone thinks calling that crap "cloyingly sentimental" would think THAT was "very sad".

Get a freakin' life. Or a life-time subscription to "People". (OMFG! Did you see the pictures of Brittney!?)
Posted by Warren Warnermacher  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  02:23 PM
I have a jaundiced view of the world. I'll happily admit to that.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  02:43 PM
To Brittany Fanboi Warren: It's obvious that English is your second language. Welcome to America, my friend! Have a pleasant stay, but try to keep that dead-eye cynicism to yourself. You'll make more friends!
Posted by Melvin Melman  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  03:14 PM
The story reminded me of the ad, but it also reminded me of all the young veterans I have seen returning home - some horribly wounded. So here's a real-life story: I met a 19 year old veteran who lost most of both arms and both legs to a RPG attach while patrolling the green zone. He said he knew what he was getting into when he joined the Army and would have made the same decision today. I could go on for days about the men and women who have signed up for a (sometimes one-way) trip to the threshold of hell, they are brave, vulnerable and generous. I could see any one of the veterans I met doing the same thing as the soldier in that story - and perhaps that is the point. It could be real, or maybe not, but I bet something similar has happened more than once as our soldiers returned home.
Posted by JD  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  03:39 PM
'Welcome to America my friend'? That's strange, last I checked the internet is NOT America. A guy can have any opinion he pleases (hate to quote your own Bill of Rights but you're meant to be able to have any opinion you like in America. Free speech. I thought any real, red-blooded Yank would respect and defend that freedom with all their might).

Personally, I think if this story was any sicklier it'd give people diabetes.
Posted by Renquist  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  03:41 PM
Good golly, "Scotty", you're right! I just darn forgot that some of our foreigner friends may be "listening in". I'm not sure the story was "sickly" though. And by all means, I think Mr Warren should have any darn opinion he wants! Maybe 2 or 3!
Posted by Melvin Melman  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  04:11 PM
Welcome to America my friend? God... Back off, mate! I have to agree whole-heartedily with Renquist...
Posted by Puck  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  04:51 PM
Pretty corny if you ask me... Sounds like something only Hallmark could dream up...
Posted by Christopher  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  05:05 PM
Wow, this intertubes thing has gotten bigger than I thought! How dumb of me. You are so right my dear friends from "across the pond". God Bless. And have an opinion on me! Take two, they're small!
Posted by Melvin Melman  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  08:06 PM
I agree: cloying. Probably all relived that they aren't one of the members of the service.
Posted by A Veteran. Really.  on  Wed Jun 04, 2008  at  08:35 PM
This story almost seems like a deliberate reversal of the one from the Vietnam War era about people supposedly spitting on troops returning from 'Nam.

The problem with that one is that there are apparently no contemporary accounts of that actually happening in any American airport. There's also the little detail that it's highly unlikely that a battle veteran would take that without kicking some major ass.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  01:46 AM
Snopes' term 'glurge' fits this exactly. Ugh.
Posted by outeast  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  02:29 AM
Applauding the soldiers is one thing, they deserve it, but the little girl story is just too too disgustingly sickly and vomit-inducing.

But being English (and a Londoner), I'm born hard-wired for cynicism.
Posted by Nona  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  05:48 AM
Posted by acidheart  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  07:46 AM
Here's a slightly different story. Some months back, my daughter was sitting in the Atlanta airport with her boyfriend awaiting her flight out when a group of soldiers walked through nearby. The soldiers were greeted with a huge round of applause, but my daughter and boyfriend continued their discussion and did not join in the salute. Clapping for enlisted persons isn't something my daughter does - she thinks it is sort of "weird". A woman approached my daughter and her beau and demanded to know why they weren't applauding. Seems the woman's husband was one of the soldiers. It ended with the woman expressing her wish that they would "get drafted and go to Iraq and get killed". Nice.
Posted by RichmondTom  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  08:47 AM
Returning soldiers (and departing soldiers, for that matter) are always applauded at the Indianapolis airport. Individual soldiers might not get the big greeting since they can slip in and out fairly quickly, but groups always do. It's usually led by the local USO, but lots of other people always join in. I certainly would. Cheering soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines isn't the same as cheering the war itself, you know.

The story sounds a bit enhanced to me (and a bit goopy -- a few too many tears to be true), if you know what I mean...but the basic facts aren't the least bit unlikely.
Posted by Kathleen  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  12:09 PM
Why, of why, do the Democrats hate our troops so much? Can't they be against the war without haing our brave boys?
Posted by Steveo  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  02:02 PM
Who here has said anything about hating troops? By the way, I'm a Democrat and I'm married to a former Marine. You know, the "Semper fi" guys? So put that in your generalization and smoke it.
Posted by Kathleen  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  03:23 PM
Schmaltzy, cloying, nauseatingly corny, digustingly maudlin, unspeakably meretricious hoax.

First, this has all the marks of an urban legend, especially the Internet species.

Second, I've been on quite a few flights in the past couple of years, which meant a lot of waiting in many different U.S. airports. On almost all of these occasions, I waited in airport lounges along with soldiers, sailors, etc. in uniform, who were in transit to and from Iraq, Afghanistan, and all the other senseless missions our septic pustule of a president sees fit to send them to. While I never saw anyone being unfriendly or unkind to these service people, nothing remotely resembling applause ever greeted them either. Of course, the whole story MIGHT have happened in Atlanta, or Australia, or Canada, or Mongolia ... but it didn't, any more than the notorious "people at the airport spitting on soldiers returning from Vietnam" happened.

Get your poodle out of the microwave and turn your B.S. detector back on.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  07:13 PM
"Of course, the whole story MIGHT have happened in Atlanta, or Australia, or Canada, or Mongolia ... but it didn't, any more than the notorious 'people at the airport spitting on soldiers returning from Vietnam' happened.

"Get your poodle out of the microwave and turn your B.S. detector back on."

That's kind of what I was going for in my comment, Gary, but you said it more entertainingly.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Jun 06, 2008  at  01:41 AM
>>"Get your poodle out of the microwave and turn your B.S. detector back on."<<

I don't know, Big Gary. I think this time you might be having too much faith in the basic standards of taste of the American public. A huge segment of the population really goes in for histrionic displays of emotion and cornball-patriotism like this. Which is why I really think it might have happened.

In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if it DID happen, and it turned out that the girl and her mother were lying about having a Dad in Iraq. Sadly, that's what I've come to expect from the American public.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Jun 06, 2008  at  11:39 AM
WOW! Contemplating some of these sad, cynical comments and realizing that people from the British Isles and Sweden have virtually no sense of humor at all, I'm sadder than ever!
Posted by Melvin Melman  on  Fri Jun 06, 2008  at  11:58 AM
The story is smarmy but I'm willing to enjoy it if it's true. What I dislike is all the garbage about "I'm not the only red-blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families". What a bunch of obnoxious crap. Oh, and by the way, despite my username I am American.
Posted by Canaduck  on  Sat Jun 07, 2008  at  12:49 AM
Let me see if I am understanding some of you doubters correctly: You really and truly don't think troops get a big send off or homecoming in the U.S.? Well, all I can say is, you're wrong. Absolutely 100 percent wrong. It ROUTINELY happens here in Indiana. As I mentioned earlier, the local USO usually has some volunteers on hand, but other people quickly join them. I would. If that makes me "cornball," I can live with that. Better than the alternative, IMO.

But as I also mentioned earlier, the schmaltzy little-blond-girl-letter-to-daddy-everybody-crying thing does sound too glurgy to be true. I'd say it's been considerably "enhanced," at the very least.
Posted by Kathleen  on  Tue Jun 10, 2008  at  09:35 AM
I can guarantee this story did not happen in Trenton Ontario. We have no civilian air flights here. I live in Trenton was born here, and highly doubt this happened here.
Posted by Krissygirl  on  Mon Jan 19, 2009  at  01:26 PM
It's morphed to New Zealand now. A lie used to promote Anzac Day
Posted by Alan Henderson  on  Tue Apr 07, 2009  at  06:11 PM
Soldiers are just murderers and rapists.

Who in a rational state of mind would ever think they should be honoured?
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Wed Apr 22, 2009  at  08:04 AM
@ D F Stuckey.
"Soldiers are just murderers and rapists."

That is an ill-informed, ignorant and offensive statement.

"Who in a rational state of mind would ever think they should be honoured?"

99% of people in the free world. Those who remember the Hitlers, Stalins and Pol Pots of this world.

There are murderers and rapists in all nations and all parts of society. Don't blame the soldiers for the sins of society and the folly of political adventurers.

There are very few servicemen or women who are proponents of war. I was a serviceman for 20 years and I abhor war.

Open your eyes.
Posted by Alan Henderson  on  Wed Apr 22, 2009  at  12:22 PM
Firstly, apologies to all our readers in overseas countries: We still have people like this in places such as Whanganui, which is our equivalent of America's Deep South, and the average age is about 67.

Now, let's go through your points -

" That is a ill-informed, ignorant and offensive statement."

And in one sentence, you deny My Lai, the 400 unarmed Italian POWS slaughtered by NZ troops in El Alamein, the Haditah incindent in Iraq, the Sand Creek Massacre, and all the other atrocities stretching back to the beginning of time. Ah, the power of the gun . . . . 😊

"Those who remeber Hitler, Stailn, and pol Pot . . . "

. . . . Usually admire how far-sighted they were these days. If we had adopted Hitler's policies of alternatives to oil for power generation, governement-backed anti-smoking campaigns, a return to preventative medicines and natural cures, paying women who choose to stay hame to nurture their children and instituted physical excercise regimes we would be happier, healthier peopel in a better and cleaner environment now. And living in Whanganui, you by all probability voted for a political party dedicated to *These very ideals*. ( What colour am I, Mister Pot?) And as for Pol Pot, well, his plan to de-industrialise and ruralise the country and reduce its environmental impact was laudable, though his methods were certainly a little flawed, I will concede.

"Don't blame the soldiers for the sins of society or the folly of political adventurers."

Ah, yes, the old 'not my fault - I was only obeying orders' line the military trots out all the time. So, if the miltary was in control, you seem to imply, there would be no social ills or political adventures? Doe sthe word Fiji come to mind?

And who exactly carries out and enbles the political adventurer to carry out their plans? It's like saying that a man with a gun would still shoot people if there were no guns - Utterly without basis.

"Open your eyes."

They are. And if I see what you don't like, what do you plan to do to me? A quick bayonet thrust? 😊
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Wed Apr 22, 2009  at  04:52 PM
@ D F Stucky

Your tunnel vision and bias are exceeded only by your condescension.

There is truth in everything you say, but you rely on a narrow part of one end of the human behaviour spectrum for your illustrations. You display the very characteristics you decry.

Your propensity to stereotype lends little to your arguments but hints at a disturbed point of view.

Fortunately for all of us, most people - military included - don't indulge in your obnoxious way of making your point, so the perpetrators of the My Lais of the world are far outweighed by the selfless behaviour of the majority.

It intrigues me that people like yourself find it acceptable to be so aggressive and abusive when hiding behind a keyboard. I suspect that they're close kin to less desirable of those who hide behind the guns. Perhaps Lt Calley had a lot in common with you.

When I said, "Open your eyes" I meant both of them.

I shall not continue this dialogue - I find you a vexation to the soul. And we has-beens need our afternoon naps.
Posted by Alan Henderson  on  Wed Apr 22, 2009  at  06:35 PM
Let's examine this one -

"@D F Stucky"

Cannot even read my name and spell it correctly? Who's got the vision problem here?

"Your tunnel vision and bias . . . "

I think you mean focus and dedication to the truth and my beliefs . . . At least to admit I am correct in my facts, which means there is hope for you yet.

as for balancing massacres against so-called progress, let me remind you of the words "There can be no scientific progress in the world as long as one child cries ." Or are you disparaging Albert Einstein now?

"Your propensity to stereotype . . . hints at a disturbed point of view"

Cutting through the rhetoric, you are saying that because I stereotype I must be mentally ill, because all mentally disturbed people do that. The paradox enclosed in that is almost outweighed by the irony of your resorting to insults and personal abuse about my mental state, which strangely enough is what you accuse *me* of elswhere. Perhaps you find me so 'vexatious' due to my possession of features you yourself have and are ashamed of possessing?

Being aggressive and abusive behind a keyboard is I would submit far better than doing so behind a weapon, and that you have done far worse to your fellow human beings than I ever have. Unless you believe that I am 'unmanly' for my actions here - and if so, you insult me far further than before with your assumptions about gender, or later by comparing me to a mindless obedient killing machine ( Or "man, same difference ) like Lt. Calley. In any event, I consider myself to be far superior in that I have stuck to facts and not descended to name-calling and personal attacks.

And in waht portion of our discussion did I refer to you as a 'has-been'? Unless this is your way of acknowledging that the days of soldiers are over. In which case, i am gla dthat you have finally come araound to my way of thinking, which of course is the correct one.
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Wed Apr 22, 2009  at  08:01 PM
I have seen enough of the behavior of young US military personnel to know that this story is not in the least implausible. Whether this specific event took place or not is, I suppose, a legitimate topic of debate, but the urbane sophistication so conspicuously displayed by those who would ridicule these sentiments serves the principal function, I believe, of blurring the sharp and unflattering distinction they must perceive as clearly as the rest of us, between such soldiers and themselves.
Posted by Dick DeLoach  on  Sun May 03, 2009  at  03:34 PM
I'm on the UK & have just been invited to join a face book group in support of our troops, (which I wholeheartedly do) the story is almost word for word except that it apparently happened in an airport in London with returning UK based soldiers.

Unfortunately, it would seem to be a hoax, or at the very least a 'chinese whispered' story.

I applaud the sentiment & support though.
Posted by Mandy  on  Fri May 22, 2009  at  04:53 AM
I know this is old but I'm answering anyway seeing as I have not noticed anyone mentioning what I know as an Atlanta resident. There is a USO chapter stationed IN the Hartsfield-Jackson (Atlanta international) airport. I am at the HJ airport at least once every three months or so as I travel often for work. I have stood up for returning service members often. There have been times when I could not see them walking in, but could hear the crowd applauding their arrival. When this happens, people generally stop what they are doing and show respect by clapping. It's a habit at this airport and one that we feel is very important. This is highly likely to be true. HIGHLY likely.
Posted by atlresident  on  Fri Mar 12, 2010  at  06:11 AM
What a goggle story. I think the story sounds a bit enhanced to me. And also this story is may change on our society. So put that in your generalization and smoke it. Thanks!
Posted by Fred Nathan  on  Sat Mar 19, 2011  at  06:27 AM
There is no way this happened in Melbourne, Australia.
Posted by Alan  on  Sat Mar 24, 2012  at  11:34 PM
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