This morning, we woke up at 5am, though I'm not sure how many of us actually slept at all. The familiar routines of cleaning the barracks and packing our gear flew by as if I was in a daze. Once on the bus, we found entertainment in the billboards and towns we passed. The high price of gas seemed all the more strange for a group who haven't paid for a gallon of gas in two years. A few times I wondered if our bus would tip over when someone called out an attractive young woman, and everyone rushed to one side of the bus to see. The car fanatics clucked over new models of cars out since we left, and we recreated Pavlov's experiment with salivating dogs as we passed our favorite fast food places.
After a bit of a snafu, our two buses were joined by escorts from the State Patrol, and a couple of dozen motorcycles from the Patriot Riders and the American Legion. As we crossed every county line in Minnesota, we picked up a new escort from the local sheriff. Just outside of Owatonna, our procession turned into a parade with hundreds of motorcycles leading us, and thousands of people lining our route. Our luxury coach bus included tinted windows, so I'm not sure if the folks we passed saw us waving back, or how many of us had to turn away as we were overcome with emotion.
Read it all at Foreign and Domestic.
UPDATE: Wounded milblogger J.R. Salzman is also in the Minnesota National Guard, though not the unit described above. However, he points us to video of his unit's return on the same day, and a story about a fellow wounded MN Guardsman reuniting with his brothers [the video starts slow, but it's worth the time].
And the author of the extended quote above has an update.