1165th return was memorable
When the plane carrying the 1165th Military Police Unit of the Alabama Army National Guard landed at Lawson Air Field in Fort Benning, Ga. on Sunday night, Standard feature reporter Lydia Grimes and I were among the first local people to see the troops step on southern soil.
No photograph can accurately convey what it was like to stand just off the runway as the tired but undoubtedly happy soldiers got step after step closer to their screaming and joyful loved ones on the other side of a fence behind us.
I couldn't begin to imagine myself in either a soldier's position or an 1165th family member's position.
Loved ones must have spent the last year on edge, proud of their sons and brothers and fathers and daughters, but ever-anxious about their safe returns.
From the troops' point of view, though, not only did they have to deal with missing home and family, but they had to find beyond-normal strength to deal with the huge responisibility of serving in an unstable part of the world.
I was so happy for them this Sunday, to see their first hugs and laughs and tears after more than a year of waiting. I thought of what a sacrifice they made to miss more than a year of their children's growth and a more than a year of the pleasant daily routine that might seem mundane to the rest of us.
This weekend's homecoming at Fort Benning was only a taste of the joy I expect the 1165th and their families to feel this Saturday when the troops finally make it to Brewton.
I hope that we -- through them -- can learn about how being in Iraq has affected them, what it's all meant for their families and how they plan to adjust to being home again. Being back to safety and back at home with family must be overwhelming in both joyful and unsettling ways.
I wish them all a happy transition and I look forward to this Saturday when we as a community can boldly and loudly show them how much we appreciate their contribution, and how happy we are to see them home.
editor of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org