Personal Salute To Soldiers
It’s always an exciting time when troops come home but one rural community gives its soldiers a truly unique welcome. They put their accomplishments on parade, literally. Lindsay Ferrier has the story from Cookeville, Tennessee.
Private First Class George McCready has just finished guarding a bridge in dangerous Fallujah. Now, he’s getting a hero’s welcome home, as grand marshal of his own parade.
Private First Class George McCready: “Its amazing, it’s amazing.”
No argument there. In fact, no one else in the country celebrates returning soldiers like the Putnam County Soldier Support Group. You’re watching the 17th celebration Lisa Bishop has organized. The parades wind through the streets of Cookeville, Tennessee, and end wherever the soldiers would like – often at their own front doors.
Lisa Bishop: “We don't see color. We don't see branches. We see soldiers, we see heroes, we see families left behind. It doesn’t matter what branch you’re from, if you need us, we’re there.”
Bishop's support of the local troops is a true joy to her United Methodist pastor, The Reverend Gerald Taylor.
The Rev. Gerald Taylor / Friendship United Methodist Church: “Lisa is a minister as we all are and she is very effective in her ministry. She gets cards and calls from some of those people saying she's their angel. And what bigger compliment could you receive than that?”
Just ask Private McCready.
Private First Class George McCready: “Its good to know everybody is behind you. It makes you swell with pride.”
Other soldiers say this warm welcome home helped wash away the horrors of war.
Staff Sargeant Frank Robertson, 278th National Guard: “It just brings tears to your eyes, when you’re little boy is just proud as can be, and your little girl sitting next to you, and your wife’s just glassy-eyed because she doesn’t know whether to cry or smile at the same time. To me, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Private First Class George McCready: “It’s great to be home!”
Lindsay Ferrier reporting.
In addition to having their own parade route, each soldier gets a key to the city and a free dinner at their favorite restaurant. They also receive a personalized plaque thanking them for their service.