Answering The Question

We look at pictures and videos and see a young man or woman wearing a military uniform and call them “heroes” Without knowing anything about that person or what they have done we call them “heroes” It’s a romantic word that shows admiration for that person. We project onto that person acts of bravery on a battlefield and sacrifice of ones comfort and personal goals for the protection of our homeland. In our mind we imagine them sleeping in foxholes and trudging through desserts and jungles . We imagine what it must be like to dodge bullets and see friends die and wonder to ourselves if we really have it in us to do the same. Most of society can spend their lives wondering if they have within them the capacity to volunteer to put their lives on the line in the defense of their country and their fellow man. Many wonder if they can stare evil in the face and then squeeze that trigger and take another man’s life. I no longer imagine these things, I remember them.

In 2002 I joined the Army. In 2008 I went to fight the good fight in Afghanistan. While the things I did and saw over there are my cross to bare, I do not bare it alone. You see, I left a pregnant wife and a young daughter at home. We all leave someone at home. Wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and of course children are all left at home to wonder if their loved one will survive the Hell called war. It doesn’t matter what we do or see over there the only thing that matters is how we come home. Most come home to cheers and celebrations. Some come home to a black veil and a folded flag. However we come home we will be called heroes, but heroes have heroes too. It is our friends and family that are our heroes. It is them who serve with us. Though they may not be there on the battlefield with us, we know that they bare the burden of deployment at home. We leave them alone to suffer the slings and arrows of life without our help. Sorrow and worry consume these unsung heroes’ sleepless nights. They send us care-packages and letters and prayers in an effort to make our life a little easier and maybe bring a smile to our face while we do what most people will not. They don’t know what we are doing, nor do I think they care. The only thing that matters is whether or not we come home.

There is a website called “WelcomeHomeBlog.” It is a collection of videos of service members returning home from war to the surprise of their family. A “best of” compilation can be seen here. It shows men and women sneaking around a house or office or school and once they are within eye-shot of their target they just stand there silently as the camera trains on the face of their loved one. Once the service member is recognized by the family member you can see their expressions and reactions. It is this reaction where you can see them answering that most important question. In these cases the folded flag will not come.

As you scroll through the videos you may find yourself realizing that they have nothing to do with military service. The actions of war are not on display here. There is only the emotion of the ones we leave behind as they shed the worries that have weighed on their minds the entire time we were gone. This is why I love these videos. It shows that the warriors are not the only people effected by war. It shows that we do not serve alone. It shows the joyous answer to the question, “Will will they come home?”

Welcome Home Blog

The Best Surprise Military Homecomings: Part One