As a Welcome Them Home photographer, I have attended several military homecomings over the last 4 years, and this is how I equate military homecomings to Christmas.
1. Anticipation – Kids (young and old) begin counting down the days to Christmas the moment December 1st arrives and the anticipation grows each day as you get closer to December 25th. Military families go through a similar anticipation period the month leading up to their loved ones arrival.
2. Waiting – Christmas celebrations are here, presents are under the tree and you have to wait for Grandma Jane to get settled before tearing open your presents. One thing I have learned being a military homecoming photographer is that you need a lot of patience because you will be waiting. A lot! In my experience, I have never had a military homecoming happen at the designated time given by the Family Readiness Officer (FRO). There is always some sort of delay. Including this most recent homecoming which was scheduled for 4:45 pm. The troops did not actually arrive at the homecoming location until 3.5 hours later.
3. Watch out for the Black Friday shoppers – Have you ever ventured out on Black Friday and you get knocked over by an excited fellow shopper as they make their way to their “must have deal” of the season? I have a black wallet in Black Friday shopping and have been elbowed and stomped on a few times in my years of shopping. I don’t think this Marine has ever encountered someone more determined than this military spouse who has finally laid eyes on her husband (who has been deployed for nearly 7 months.) Can you blame her!?!
4. It’s over in a matter of moments. Christmas morning has arrived and the kids have torn into their presents before you can even get your camera ready to capture their sheer delight over this year’s must-have toys. Time to throw away the discarded wrapping paper and take down the decorations. At a military homecoming, as soon as a family member spots their loved one, those handmade signs are tossed to the ground as they running into the arms of dearly missed loved one. And then it’s time to grab those bags and clear out.
5. Christmas Celebrations – Friends and family from near and far gather annually to celebrate the season, much like military homecomings. Families fly in from far and friends near base gather to welcome home those who have been deployed for many months. It’s awesome to see such large gatherings for military homecomings. Our troops sacrifice so much for their country, they truly deserve a homecoming celebration!
6. Bombarded by ads. As soon as the holidays draw close, you start getting besieged by advertisements. As a Welcome Them Home photographer, I will bombard your military homecoming with my camera to capture every moment. From the look of anticipation of your face as you await the arrival of the buses and your loved one, to keeping your kids occupied for several hours as the military homecoming has been delayed, to you nearly knocking over anyone who stands in the way of you and your loved one, and to the final moments as your finally hold your loved one tightly in your arms once again. Home again safe and sound!
If you haven’t noticed, I love my job as a photographer and am thankful for an organization like Welcome Them Home that gets me in touch with families who are looking for a military homecoming photographer to capture their long-awaited reunion with their loved ones. I have met so many amazing families over the years and I look forward to the next military homecoming.
Here’s a video of my most recent homecoming captured. Enjoy!
P.S. If you’d like to donate to the Welcome Them Home organization<<< here’s the link. I do not get any money from this organization. I am just a photographer who volunteers her services to a great cause as my way of giving back to my community and the military.