Coming Home

Buckle up, folks! These short video representations of soldiers coming home to their children after long deployments are going to require a few helpings of Kleenex. I know that most of you who read these articles are not strangers to the realities of military service, but this one will touch your heart at its depths. It brings home one of the aspects of those realities with real force.

Military service for married personnel has always brought its challenges to their families. It is not uncommon that the service member is deployed to a duty station or aboard a ship, which takes them away from their families to places around the world for long periods of time, even in peacetime. The spouses of those servicemembers remain at home, going about the everyday duties of parenting, without the help of the deployed spouse.

The children’s daily lives of school, homework, sports, and playing with their neighborhood friends, go on, but even if they are too young to understand their own feelings, they know that the empty space at the dinner table or the dull pain of absence that settles in their own hearts doesn’t go away. They often feel that absence very deeply, without having the vocabulary to express the complex feelings associated with it.

Over the last two decades, millions of our servicemembers have been deployed to some of the most dangerous places in the world. Many still are deployed on dangerous missions or are serving in areas where tensions are high and the potential for combat experiences is real. For these past twenty years, we were at war, and many of those parents who went off to war did not come home. But that is a subject for another day.

These videos are about joy. They are about children seeing their fathers for the first time in months, maybe even a year or more. For some of these children, that is a good portion of their young lives. All of the pent-up feelings these children have had over that time are suddenly released in inarticulate tears that obviously express both joy and relief that suddenly overwhelms these little ones.

This will give you a clear indication of the sacrifices our military service members and their families undertake on behalf of all of us. All too often, the families of the servicemembers are a kind of forgotten element in the minds of the average citizen. Indeed, in the present moment of our history, less than one percent of our countrymen and their families serve in the military. As a result, there are many people who know not a single person who is serving presently. They are out-of-sight and out-of-mind to the average citizen. But the realities of military service are ever-present to our military families.

The little ones you will see in this video, though too young to possess language sophisticated enough to explain their feelings, are more than capable of expressing them in their sheer excitement and in their uncontrollable tears of joy and relief.

We must never forget the tremendous sacrifices that so few undertake on behalf of us, the many, in this country, and all of those sacrifices are being carried out in almost complete anonymity. We can never thank them enough, of course. But they don’t serve to gain our adulation; they serve because they love this country. We must never forget the service of their families either. Those who wait at home for their fathers, mothers, and spouses to return are enduring sacrifices that most of us will never have to experience. They are the best among us. They are the backbone of our freedoms and our rights as citizens of this great country.

People, Pets & Planet

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