I was eating my lunch in Dupont Circle today when a reporter for Aljazeera TV asked if she could ask me some questions. After finding out just what she was going to ask I consented and gave a very brief interview about my feelings on the troops returning from Iraq. In a nutshell, my response was that, I have a brother in law in the military and I know what a homecoming means to family. Am I happy to see husbands, fathers, brothers and sons return to their families? Of course. Am I happy the military is leaving Iraq? How should I know what that will mean for any of us? The sacrifice the members of the US military give is often cheapened and used as political ammo, but seeing these people come home touches something we can all relate to.


We got to see my brother in law pull in to port having been on his last six month deployment. That is six months that he has not seen his wife and four beautiful daughters. It has been so hard on all of them to be apart for so long. My sister has been a solid pillar of support to her husband throughout his career in the Navy. She maintains a healthy positive yet realistic perspective of the good and the bad of being a military family. She has excelled when most people in her situation would just throw their hands in the air and say "I CAN'T DO THIS!" She refuses to hit cruise control even while alone with four very young girls who are, shall we say, very energetic. Their girls are all in constant need of their parents love and attention and she has not only kept them alive and healthy, she devises whole months of activities, goals and projects that keep them engaged and provide opportunities to grow. Very few people in the world have a mother as understanding, patient, involved and strong as my sister. She loves much and does all that she can. Some nights I could hear the tiredness in her voice and knew how badly she needed someone to give her the same love and attention she pours out to her children. Knowing her husband, I can only imagine how hard it must have been to want to be there and yet be so totally cut off from them.


My brother in law went to the Naval Academy and has served for 10 years on nuclear submarines. He is very good at what he does. He is intelligent, and fearless in his morals and standards. He is a natural leader not because of a stern manner but because he is all heart and people feel that immediately. He cares and can be trusted. He has sacrificed much for both his family and this country. I have known him since I was 12 and am proud to call him brother.

This was the last of many long deployments. I cannot speak for my sister or her amazing girls, but I think my brother in law's homecoming represented an end to a lot of hard times. It was emotional and exciting. We saw his sub from two spots on the river that leads to the base. Then got to see him pull right up to the pier and get off. As one of the head officers on board, he was outside on the 'sail' the whole way in (that's the top part that sticks up on a sub... or so I'm told).





His younger brother, my best friend since I was 12, is also in the Navy and his sub was docked right next to where my brother in law pulled up. It was very cool to see them reunite and watch as my friend introduced his new wife and child to his brother.


We got to spend the whole weekend with all of them. I just can't express how fun it was for us... My sister took this shot of Sho and I hitting the streets of their hood hardcore.

mad skills

mad skills

Did I mention that we are absolutely in love with their children?





Emma Jo said...

Tears. A few tears. How lucky we are to be moving closer. Thank you for coming and for all those really nice things you said.

michaelstubbs said...

Hurray! Well said, all of it. I wish that I lived close to all of you.

Oscarson Photography said...

Michael, you need to move here... like now.

Abby said...

Find my husband a government/military architecture job pronto and we'll party, k?
The pictures are priceless--so beautiful and love the magical affect of the last ones. Is it night? Is it day? Can't tell--magical. And when did Abs become such a brunette?

chrisX said...

Great tribute, great photos, great bikes! So this is what it feels like to see everyone in the family having fun on the other side of the country?

mo said...

Well said, my son. You speak for all of us when you talk about the sacrifice they have made, the gratitude we all feel, and the admiration we have for both Em and Clark. Your pictures are priceless. I'm so glad you could be there for the homecoming. Love the tough bike shots. You two look like you are ruling the 'hood alright. It's just not a very tough 'hood!

Amy Lynn said...

Oh Spencer, I'm sitting here at 8:20 a.m. in my pajamas just crying and crying. That was so beautiful...the words, the pictures! I'm just so happy. Thank you for sharing that happy this morning! And thank you for capturing so many small, amazing moments with your camera & sweet words.

Come visit. We miss you two!

Jenny said...

Spencer, not only do have talent with a camera, you have a gift with words too. You were able to put into words what we all feel. I am so glad that you were there. Miss you guys!

Dr. Johnsen said...

Spencer, I mostly sped read through all those lengthy paragraphs. It seemed like you used a lot of big words. Nice. My only question is why do you need Camo when you are in a submarine. seems like you should be able to wear t-shirt and jeans. I mean the whole point is that nobody can see you right.
Mark II 5D plus your pro lenses make some pretty decent shots. Do us all a favor and buy a pullup bar that works.

katyvee said...

That was CRAZY enjoyable.

Suzie Petunia said...

Spencer, I love the way you describe Clark. That is just the way I feel about him. I am also grateful to be able to call him my brother.

Your pictures are so beautiful. They really capture the feeling of the homecoming. What a wonderful keepsake for Em and her fam to always have and look back on this joyful time. ... hopefully the very beginning of LOTS of joyful times TOGETHER!

Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke said...

Love it all. What a special time to document,and love your words to your sister. Great shots, off camera flash at the end?