A few times in my life, I have experienced what I would call a ''magical moment'' - as time when my heart has felt intimately united with others (many who were previously unknown to me) in a common expression of humanity, passion and pride. Sometimes such an experience is borne of shared pain, sometimes of shared victory, but certainly it is a time when our hearts are unified and life's important issues suddenly become crystal-clear in a world grayed-out with controversy, confusion and conflict.
Thursday, June 7, 2012, was such a day for me.
In a matter of days, this community rallied with the opportunity to welcome home a group of 30 soldiers from Fort Drum who had spent a year in Afghanistan, fighting for a nation of people who were mostly nameless and faceless, in a long, indistinct and dusty war, losing 36 of their own comrades. Together we held true to our promise to never again neglect to show our thanks to those who so sacrificially fight for our very freedoms.
Why am I so amazed at the generosity and kindness of the American people? I really shouldn't be, for we are a giving, caring and grateful people. Most of us understand the great blessings we have been given in this great country and the majority of us are willing to demonstrate that thankfulness in tangible ways.
And you did.
Almost instinctively, you showed up with flags and yellow ribbons, fire trucks and police escorts, color guards and uniforms, handmade signs and high-fives. You liberally donated hot dogs and buns, cookies and cakes, thank you notes and money. With hardly a word, you graciously arranged venues, made public service announcements and printed new releases, made phone calls and sent facebook messages and texts.
In short, you showed up ... young and old, every race, creed and color. Despite the short notice and the two and one-half hour delay, despite work schedules and obligations, there you were - expressing your gratitude and admiration to a group of soldiers who I guarantee will never forget Chautauqua County!
Personally, I want to thank you for all you did to remind me of why I love the United States of America and Chautauqua County! Thank you for fortifying my hope in this great ''One nation under God.''
Kathleen Collver is a resident of Jamestown and a member of Blue Star Mothers, Lake Erie, N.Y., Chapter 4.