Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Shawn Kallmeyer (from left), Lance Cpl. Drew Green and Lance Cpl. Danielle Harrington smile as they stand beneath one of two banners that will welcome troops at Atlanta’s airport.
Men and women of the Armed Forces are welcomed daily by family and friends at the arrival lobby of the world’s busiest airport, or receive cheers and applause from passengers as they walk by in a line led by USO volunteers.
Saying thank you to a soldier is never a waste of time, said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, on Tuesday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “Today is about lifting up our armed forces,” he said.
Hartsfield-Jackson will have two large banners hanging from the ceiling at its arrival lobby, so troops coming through the airport will be able to read: “The State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta Welcome Our Troops Home.”
The airport held a banner-dedication ceremony, recently, with prominent officials and public figures, including Hartsfield-Jackson’s Aviation General Manager Louis Miller, Gov. Nathan Deal, Gen. Jim Butterworth, of the Georgia National Guard, CEO and President Mary Lou Austin, of USO Georgia, and Atlanta Mayor Reed.
Miller said he served in the U.S. Army from 1965, to 1969, and he understands what the banners mean to soldiers.
“It was a tribute and honor for me to serve the military,” Miller said.
Reed said the banners are appropriate and proper as Thanksgiving draws near. “It is my hope, during these extremely difficult times, God keeps them safe,” Reed said.
USO’s Austin agreed with Reed about the timing of the banners. “For this Thanksgiving week, it is only appropriate,” she said.
Maj. Gen. Butterworth said people should hug, thank and love on their troops. “These men and women make sacrifices for their country and the well-being of fellow citizens,” he said.