As I sat on the pull-out bleachers in a general purpose building on a remote corner of Fort Riley, I wasn’t quite prepared for the emotion that was about to strike.
Certainly I was expecting some emotion. It was an emotional event. My brother-in-law Nick was returning with his command unit from a 15-month deployment in Iraq.
About 80 soldiers stood at attention while the ranking officer gave a short speech welcoming them home and thanking them for their service.
To his credit he only spoke for about a minute. And then, after 15 months in the desert and 30 hours on military and civilian airplanes, the soldiers embraced their families and friends.
It was very moving. I have to admit that even a crusty old cynic like me had moist eyes.
The joy was palpable. It a very genuine, understated flavor of joy mixed with a dash of relief that the soldiers were finally home.
But though it was understated, it was no less intense. Grown men had tears in their eyes and they hugged their comrades in arms goodbye and their families hello.
Buying Nick and a couple of his comrades lunch and throwing them a reception the next day was nice. But I'm sure it was nothing to them compared to just being home.
tagged: Iraq, war, deploy, family, homecoming, soldier, Fort Riley