Virginia Is For Lovers

We’ve all seen photographs or video of soldiers returning from war to the women they love, right?

Rarely is it personal for me, though. Rarely do they evoke much in me other than trite sentimentality. Rarely do I give any of them more than a passing glance on the paper or the nightly news.

But yesterday, all that changed.

See, we met this couple largely because our daughters were good friends. They danced at the same studio and ran across each other at school. This started the moms to become friends. Turns out this was a rare occasion that the wives’ being friends turned into the husbands being friends, too (open note to wives: this almost never happens, so be prepared if it goes awry). One time, after getting the kids to school, we planned a double date at Six Flags just to ride roller coasters all day. The Clemons’ are our kind of people.

A few years ago, Steve transferred to Hawaii largely because they could. We’ve kept in touch via social networks and mobile phones and drop-everything visits when they return to see family and friends.

So, we sympathized when Steve went off to war. We got it, though. He’s got “soldier” (probably better described as “warrior”) hard-wired into all his DNA. He left for Iraq last November to do what he loves to do and what he’s hard-wired to do.

His wife did what women who marry warriors do: Juggled everything with the kids and the homestead and supported and encouraged and worried about and missed her husband.

Steve’s deployment ended and he returned to Virginia two days ago.

But here’s the backstory to the photo: The plane lands, and for two hours the warriors did whatever it is that their leaders tell them to do. Meanwhile, the wives are in a reception room where they count off every single one of the 7,200 seconds they have to wait wearing the dress that he wants to see her in killing time by making sure the punch is full and the cookies are in rows and chatting with the other family members and any looking for any other distracting task they can take on.

After the warriors do whatever it is that their leaders tell them to do for two hours, they get to come in and see their loved ones.

Here’s Steve and Malia after their 24,364,800 seconds apart:

Granted, it probably isn’t personal to you. It probably only evokes trite sentimentality for you. It’s probably something that’s only a passing glance for you.

But to me…

…it reminds me that love between a husband and wife is a beautiful thing.
…that “for better or worse” means something significant.
…that sacrifices warriors and wives make for freedom is something we forget to appreciate.

And that, at the end of the day all the high-minded ideals this photo represents pale in comparison to a simple reality:

He loves her. She loves him.

So, Steve, welcome home, my friend. And, it’ll never be enough to say thank you…

And, Malia, it’ll never be enough to say thank you to you, either…

Thanks for the sacrifices you both made for all of us here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

And for a reminder of the best and highest ideals we have in this world.