Wednesday afternoon, intern Angela Niesz and I got the opportunity to get out of the office and drive a couple counties south -- the Crawford County Fairgrounds in Denison, to be specific -- for a special event.
With hundreds of other Iowans, and a few Nebraskans, we were fortunate to welcome home and be the first to thank the 130 troops that make up Company D of the 1st Battalion 168th Infantry. The battalion is based in Council Bluffs, but is made up of soldiers from all over Iowa, including the Spencer area.
Family, friends and other loved ones packed the grandstands, alive with energy and passion. Some made signs. Others wore personalized t-shirts. Others still did both and waved American flags of all sizes.
A large American flag hung from a fire truck, reminding everyone of the American spirit exhibited within every soldier that walked onto the field to salute it during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Overall, the ceremony was brief, but it was a nice little detour from a regular day in the office.
Following the ceremony, we found ourselves on a different kind of detour. All vehicles were directed to go the same way and we found ourselves traveling west out of Denison. (For those who may not be familiar with that area, that is the exact opposite of where we needed to go.)
Angela proudly got to work on the GPS feature of her phone. The first right turn was nothing but a loop, but there was a nice gravel road ahead that would take us northeast, back to Highway 39.
Granted, that's a very loose definition of "nice," considering it was a "Low Maintenance Road."
The great thing about this winding, hilly stretch of gravel was that it offered an amazing view of green, rolling hills and a small pond. It wasn't quite breath-taking, but for Iowa landscapes, it was right up there.
Suddenly, we were thankful for the traffic control and U.S. Highway 59 construction that sent us that way.
It was literally a view that many people probably don't realize is there, as they zip by on the highway.
The whole experience got me thinking about how beneficial detours can be sometimes.
One, they get people to slow down and think about things. The nature of those thoughts is up to the thinker, but it can be a time for reflection and thankfulness.
Two, such detours offer change, and change can be a good thing.
Three, they require patience, which as all mothers know, "is a virtue" we can all use a little bit more of.
As I was on that scenic detour, I thought of the detour on which the troops we welcome back have been.
They left their friends, significant others and children to go to a place that is not considered pleasant, scenic or beautiful. They gave up their agendas and followed the orders of their superiors. They learned and grew as men and women the hard way -- always requiring sweat and sometimes requiring blood and tears.
They did this because they care about America and their fellow Americans.
The next time you're in a detour, think about others who are also on detours -- especially those who are selflessly serving others -- and be thankful for the opportunities that such unexpected treks offer.