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Boy with East Tennessee ties greets soldiers at airport

5:23 PM, Dec 23, 2011   |    comments
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Cody Jackson

A little boy with East Tennessee ties is on a mission to greet soldiers.

At the airport in Atlanta, it's common for people to applaud groups of troops. One young man has his own way of showing appreciation.

This week, Cody Jackson and his family are visiting his grandparents in Gatlinburg. But many weekends the 8-year-old who lives near Atlanta goes to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

"I greet soldiers at the airport and I thank soldiers where ever I am," Cody Jackson said. "I tell them thank you for protecting us and I shake their hand and salute them and I give them a piece of candy."

His father, Ken Jackson, explained, "We'll go down to the airport when we know there's a plane coming in or just for Cody to meet some of the troops when they get back, coming home to visit their family or returning home for good, for him just to visit with them."

Like a lot of little boys, Cody first liked fire fighters and then police officers. But then his attention turned to our troops.

"We went on a trip one year and Cody asked why is it so difficult for us to get on a plane? Why are all these guys with guns? So we explained 9/11 to him and he said well, we need to thank our soldiers for what they do for us," Ken said.

Sometimes the soldiers give something to Cody: a badge, or a patch, or a coin.

He pulled out a few he stores in a plastic bag.

"This was my first one," Cody said, pointing to a round, red coin. "It's a bomb squad one, he defused the bombs."

He showed a few more in his collection, "An army guy gave me this one and my mom's dad gave me this one."

A black coin is impressive front and back. "A soldier gave me this one and he was in charge of the whole war," he said.

But Cody doesn't greet our troops expecting anything in return.

"It's his duty he says now to explain to everybody how wonderful our soldiers are and what they do for us," Ken said.

Cody said, "It's the right thing to do and they're risking their lives and they're fighting for us and for our freedom in the country."

The interaction has certainly made an impression on the 8-year-old boy.

"I've always wanted to be a soldier," Cody said.

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