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The anticipation of a homecoming

The anticipation of a homecoming

Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012 7:01 pm

Last week, I had the honor and privilege to be among the crowd gathered at the John Tanner National Guard Armory for the homecoming of the 913th Engineer Co. This was my first opportunity to be a part of such an event, and I admit, I began my coverage with a number of preconceived notions about what the day would hold.
The wives rushing into the arms of their husbands; wide-eyed children, bursting with excitement at the sight of “Daddy;” mothers choking back tears of joy and relief; the quiet swell of pride in a father’s chest as he welcomes his soldier back home; a tidal wave of emotion crashing against the Guardsmen’s rank and file.
I expected to see a reenactment of “V-J Day in Times Square,” the iconic photograph from 1945 of a sailor kissing a nurse, or any number of final scenes from John Wayne’s WWII films when the men and women of the 913th arrived.
However, what I witnessed that afternoon far exceeded my expectations and could never be duplicated on a Hollywood movie set.
It wasn’t John Wayne kissing Rita Hayworth on the silver screen. These were real people, with real problems and real fears that we as civilians couldn’t begin to imagine. For 12 months, our friends and neighbors from here in Weakley County were called away from their families, with no guarantee that they would return.
Yet for one brief moment, they dropped their worries along with their duffel bags and were welcomed back into the loving arms of home.
I have never served in the military, nor have I had to say goodbye to loved ones who were called up. I can’t say that I have felt the range of emotions that were in each heart when the 913th was deployed to the Middle East for a year. However, I can say that when they finally returned home, the love and happiness spread through the crowd like a wildfire.
Words fail to describe the warmth around me that day.
To the men and women of the 913th Engineer Co. – thank you and welcome home. 
Published in The WCP 8.23.12

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