Welcome Home

Welcome Home ceremonies at Fort Stewart are my favorite type of Army ceremony to attend. The band is playing, people are cheering and crying tears of joy as the white busses roll in. Soldiers march in formation through the trees and onto Cotrell Field or if inside you can feel the excitement in the air as the side doors to Newman Gym close and then open again. Then the unit colors are uncased, the National Anthem is played, a blessing is said, the 3rd ID commander says a few words of thanks, the Dog Face Soldier song is sung, then the Army song and then a RUSH as families run out to embrace each other for the first time in way too many days! Though it is my favorite type of Welcome Home ceremony to attend and it is what happens the most there is a dark side as well. The side we experienced wasn’t the darkest but it kind of sucked. I am thankful that my husband is part of an amazing unit that is extremely supportive and had someone to call me and be with me as we sat waiting in the hospital lobby to be brought back to see Troy for the first time. I’m beyond thankful for all they’ve done for our family because sadly some wounded warriors come “home” to nothing but an empty barracks room – no family or friends to welcome them home, nothing. To me the darkest side of all are the soldiers that watch from above as their bodies are “welcomed” to Dover before being laid to rest. There is a glimmer of hope at Fort Stewart though they do something beautiful here with the Warriors Walk, a memorial to those that have paid the ultimate price.
With all of the ups and downs of Army life in the last few days, my prayers have been: in thanksgiving for bringing home my wounded warrior – in thanksgiving for all of my family and friends and their support – in joy for an “Army Family” friend whom welcomed home their soldier – in sorrow for the repose of the soul of another soldier who paid the ultimate price with his life and who now has a beautiful tree dedicated in his memory here at Fort Stewart. With all of that I pray every day for the safety of the remaining soldiers that are down range and am blessed to have the freedoms that we do have because of these heroic men and women. All too often I think Americans forget about this and get too caught up in their “rights” and playing political games. So today I ask you to just pause, step out of yourself and your selfishness and take a moment to realize the beauty in your life – pause on this thankful Thursday and reflect on all of the amazing things you have to be thankful for in your life. Rid your day of negativity today and if negativity attempts to come your way hunt the good stuff in it to make the burden a bit lighter.

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