I can't watch the flag-draped caskets & memorial parades - it's too painful. But this, this I can watch.
Get a hankie. Four legged friends welcoming home their Soldiers. Then hug your soldier. Or if they're not home yet, hug your hound and remember a one year deployment is like 7 years to your furry best friend.
The last clip, of homecoming soldiers surprising their kids at school had me blubbering at my desk. That look of total joy and relief on their faces says everything and hits me in the gut every time. I just imagine these little kids, trying to be brave for Daddy/Mommy - holding all their fear and anxiety inside for months at a time, never knowing if they'd come home to the worst possible news. And the absolute release of all that tension, sadness and stress when they see them walk through the door - alive.
Every time I lay down with the Monkey at bedtime and get to listen to all his little "Guess what?" stories from his day - his seemingly insignificant questions and observations that give me a small window into his mind as he experiences this world for the very first time and tries to make sense of it all.... I think of all the missed birthday parties, BBQ's, games/recitals sacrificed by our men and women in uniform. All the missed bedtime stories. Missed memories. Missed chances for hugs after skinning a knee. Missed fevers and health scares. The missed inches on a growth chart. And thank those who have volunteered to miss all that with their own children to protect me, mine, and ours.
We can never thank them enough. All we can do is be damned sure when we ask *any* family to make that sacrifice - parents not being able to experience their children grow up; children being orphaned in all but name - nevermind the ultimate sacrifice - there had better be a very, very good reason for doing so.
Today, and everyday I pray for them to come home safe, and for their families to know peace.