How many times would you guess you hug and kiss your kids every day? A lot? Now multiply those hugs and kisses by 365. You wrap your arms around you children and press your lips against their faces countless times in Don't get me wrong-- any length of time deployed overseas is emotionally and physically taxing. But there's just something about the number "1" when you put it front of the word "year" and throw "Afghanistan" into the sentence somewhere. It makes your heart sink. Who would volunteer for something like that? Who could bring upon himself such torment and agony? I'll tell you who-- a hero. A hero like the military dad you'll see in the images below.
I waited with Blanca and her three kids in the warm glow of a large flood light in the early morning air. It was far from cold but there was a slight crisp in the atmosphere unique to only 4am. Blanca appeared nervous and so did her children. They had just spent a summer and a school year without dad. Every holiday, every birthday, every laugh, every tear was missed. And standing on that asphalt watching the black sky turn to shades of blue all of those things seemed to fade from memory and not matter anymore. The darkness retreated and daylight soon washed over the crowd of anxious families. It was a new day, and although not January 1st, it felt like a new year had been ushered in, a new year full of promise and hope-- and lots of hugs and kisses.
Here is the J Family's homecoming story. Enjoy :)