Tuesday, June 16, 2009

He's Home!!

Photo: Our Soldiers just after stepping off the bus, and just before greeting their Families.

Nothing compares to an Army homecoming. After months apart, Soldiers are on their way to be reunited on an Army installation somewhere … usually in a gym or on a parade field. The Army band comes to play or a deejay is hired to play to the emotional crowd so music fills the air and excitement and apprehension build to record levels. Remember, it’s been months. Months! These Soldiers have been in the heat and sand, working nonstop with few comforts of home while the Families at home have handled all of the domestic duties while worrying each moment about their Soldier’s safety. (We could spend chapters on that alone, but suffice it to say, it is exhausting.)

Now THE DAY is here. Now this DAY is much different than that ‘other’ DAY. The goodbye day is heart-wrenching and sad and gloomy and feared. This day is the antidote to that day! This is a day full of exhilaration and nerves and joy and pride and love. Balloons bounce around the welcome home site, banners proudly welcome home the mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of the unit. Streamers and American flags abound. 4th of July d├ęcor has nothing on a welcome home ceremony! It’s a beautiful, happy occasion.

I absolutely LOVE seeing Soldiers come home. Daddies holding their babies for the first time, the first welcome-home kiss, moms and dads and grandparents and siblings wearing some version of the “I AM PROUD OF MY SOLDIER” line of clothing … this is good stuff! My all-time favorite is the Romeo-and-Juliet version (before the last act) where the Soldier and the spouse run toward each other, arms outstretched, and leap into an embrace, twirling, crying, laughing, kissing … while a love song plays and cartoon hearts float around them. You’ve seen them. There is not a romance novel out there to beat that scene.

All of the anxieties I felt about him coming home were erased the moment I saw the bus pull up to the parade field. From there, it was just exhilarating. It was finally MY turn! My Soldier stepped off the bus! My husband walked across the parade field! My kids’ daddy stood with his fellow Soldiers and listened to the (thankfully short) welcome home message. My boys got to run to their dad and hug (tackle?) him for the first time in months. Life is good, HOOAH, and all that. It’s a good day!

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