“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hockey And The Troops

For those who may have missed this, I am posting the ESPN article unedited.

All-Stars welcome U.S. troops home at airport

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Army Spc. Cody Anderson was certainly expecting a more routine layover when he and about 100 other military members stopped in Texas on Tuesday.

Anderson, a hockey fan from Michigan who's beginning a two-week break from his duties in Iraq, was stunned when he saw former Michigan State goalie and current Buffalo Sabres All-Star Ryan Miller waiting for him in a reception line.

"It was awesome," said Anderson, who stopped when he saw Miller walk over to shake his hand. "It's a good welcome-home greeting."

Joining Miller in the military reception area of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were New Jersey Devils defenseman Brian Rafalski -- also in town for Wednesday's NHL All-Star Game -- five NHL mascots and dozens of other volunteers to greet service members taking a break from overseas duty.

"I just wanted to show my appreciation," Miller said. "It's just something we wanted to do, and I'm proud to be a part of it."

Rafalski, who like Miller was wearing his game jersey, said he was honored to make the appearance.

"They do so much for us, this is just something that we can do for them," Rafalski said. "We're here to support them."

Miller presented U.S. Army Major Patrick McAfee with a stack of tickets for Wednesday's All-Star Game that will be distributed to the soldiers.

"It means a lot to them knowing that we're being supported back home," McAfee said.

Also on display Tuesday were two custom-made goalie masks honoring U.S. and Canadian troops. The masks were designed by renowned sports artist David Arrigo, and Miller will wear one when he starts for the Eastern Conference.

Following the game, the masks will be auctioned online, with the proceeds going to the Dallas branch of the United Services Organization as well as the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency and The Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warrior Fund.

"Hopefully it fits right because it's not the same company I'm used to," joked Miller. "But I'm willing to take a few pucks with it. It's unique and a one-of-a-kind piece, so hopefully it does a lot to raise money."

After landing at DFW, the troops were scattering around the country for their rest-and-relaxation visits.

DFW and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are the two designated entry points for military R&R flights that take thousands of soldiers home from Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait for two-week breaks.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

Now THAT is what honor is all about!