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