Home Comings are nothing new around these parts of Virginia. Norfolk is after all the largest military base in the world, but I was so excited to be asked to photograph one. The USS Cole is a legend in its own day. It is not just a destroyer but it is also a functioning museum of sorts with its amazing history and tales of glory we are able to witness it coming back home again with friends and loved ones. My neighbor Patricia asked me to join her and her two precious little ones to welcome home their Daddy after 7 months over seas. Avi is 3 years old and has talked about her Daddy probably every day that he has been away. Noah is 18 months and is just now learning to speak. He cried watching Daddy on Skype and points at the picture of Daddy holding him on the wall and says, “Dada”? So this was a big event for not just Patricia and Chaplain A, it was very special to the whole family.
Those of us who spend months on end without our spouse home and live like a single parent understand the weight of this incredible responsibility and the pressures you face knowing that you can’t always share everything with the spouse that is away because it would cause more struggles for them so we keep quite and brave. We understand the tasks of being both a mother and a father to our children. We see the tears that are poured out by our children and the anger they feel when they miss out on time that we will never gain back. We experience the frustration that mounts on both sides as tension builds from the distance between us and our spouse when things happen outside of our control. There are so many more things I could say here but I will stop because the truth is, all of it falls away when we watch them cross the brow of the ship and hold them in our arms. The peace that is overwhelming and the joy that over flows is so priceless it should be bottled for the world to see. This is my bottle for Patrica, Chaplin A, Avi, and Noah. Keep it within your heart for all the world to see. No matter what comes your way remember this moment because it shows the depth of what you have built together and with God’s help the foundation will only get stronger. We love you all and to all of you we say thank you for your service and sacrifice!