Mississippi soldiers receive warm welcome back home

Published 7:04 am Saturday, April 20, 2019

Welcome home, soldier.

Those are probably the sweetest words a deployed member of the Armed Forces can hear. Over the past few weeks, local members of the 155th Armored Brigade have been arriving after a long deployment to Kuwait. It was the unit’s third deployment to the Middle East since 2001.

Some came home to parades. Other soldiers surprised children at schools. Some got a well-deserved hero’s welcome. Lee Stringer of Brookhaven got just that when his neighborhood organized a black party to celebrate his return Saturday.

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Carl Tate Jr. came home earlier this year to see his 8-month-old son for the first time in person. He surprised his three older children at their school. The sign greeting him said it all: “No more FaceTime dates, kissing pictures of Daddy’s face or counting down the days because Daddy’s home!”

It is hard to imagine the sacrifice of the 155th — and their families back home. They went more than a year without a hug or a kiss or a shoulder to cry on. Husbands and wives carried on with life as normally as possible while their loved one served. Kids still had to get to school. Diapers still had to be changed. The grass still had to be cut. The routines of daily life still had to happen — but with one-half of a marriage missing.

Those of us who have never experienced a deployment can’t possibly understand how difficult it is for everyone involved.

“Exciting is not even the way to describe it. We’re waiting to find our new normal again,” Dusti Smith, wife of Spec. Dylan Smith, said prior to her husband’s return.

We are grateful for the sacrifice of these soldiers and their families. Here’s to hoping they all find their “new normal” again.

This editorial was originally published in The Daily Leader newspaper in Brookhaven.