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Sweet Home in Baguio
On March 17, we were chaufered to our home in Baguio courtesy of the Red Cross. When we reached the Lookout Point on Zig-Zag Road, there were about 50 people waiting for us. Among them were my co-workers and VOA Manager Mr. John Rowlett, friends, relatives and the media. It was a joy to see so many familiar faces. After 5 years I still knew each one by name.
It felt like a hero's welcome. From there, a motorcade with police escort took us through Harrison road, continuing on to Session Road and up to the City Hall where we were greeted by the Mayor of Baguio, Luis Lardizabal. He said, "Now that you're a free man, would you like to work for the City of Baguio"? Mr. Rowlett replied "Oh no he's been in our payroll all through this time. We certainly would keep him." I laughed because I had forgotten all about the choices you can make as a free man. In prison, you do as you're told.
The next stop was the Baguio Cathedral for a Homecoming church service sponsored by the Mayor. Students from St. Louis Elementary and St. Louis Girls High School (my daughters Chari and Beths school) were there. It was so crowded and it was humbling to be honored at this mass.
The biggest surprise was arriving at the house that I have never seen, . a house that my wife labored to build for our family. The big "Welcome Home Papa" sign in front of the house made me emotional. I was absolutely a free man and yes... at home my home sweet home!!! The memory emblazoned in my mind. "Welcome Home, Papa."
For several weeks and months, Dorothy and I were invited as guest speakers to many luncheons, dinners, interviews, celebrations, and even an offer to make a movie. I turned it down because I didn't want to make money out of my experience. I simply wanted to enjoy freedom once again with my family!
Page 6 - Clark Air Base Visit
This page was last updated 02/20/00