Sphanson-100302-mrpFor years as a child I wore a POW/MIA bracelet with one man's name inscribed on it: Stephen Paul Hanson.

Today, I am remembering him and his sacrifice on this Memorial Day. May he rest in peace.

On my way home from Nebraska on Saturday, I chose a seat in the Atlanta Airport, Gate C51, beside a young soldier. As I approached the gate, I saw him. He was sitting alone. Other soldiers sat in pairs. I specifically chose to sit in the seat next to his, not knowing what I would say to him. Knowing I wanted to say thank you, and at the same time being so conflicted about war, and this one in particular.

We sat quietly for a moment. "I hope you're headed home," I said.

Munoz "No, m'am," he said. "I'm headed to Afghanistan."

It would be his first trip there. And he will be there for a year. We talked until his flight was called. I stood up, asked if I could take his photo with me, and shook his hand. "Be safe," I said. "And thank you."

And so, to a soldier named Munoz, godspeed for your journey. Come home safely.