Welcoming her son home from war was reason enough for Ann Miller to celebrate. But when he did, she found many more reasons.
My face was very red that July day, as if I had been puffing up a hill, which is exactly the effort it took to keep from falling apart. This was the day my son came home from war.
We had been tracking him for days; text messages traveling like little miracles from Logar Province to my cubicle in Fairfield. Over the days they came from locations that were increasingly safe: Bagram, Romania, Frankfurt. I was so afraid that something would go wrong when we had come so far.
Now we were walking toward the gym on base for the homecoming ceremony. The scene was jubilant and it was heartbreaking. And it was no longer about me and my son.
Children were spilling out of minivans with American flags and signs that said “Welcome Home Daddy!” A little girl toddled before me in a dress floating in red, white and blue. It felt like a high school pep rally, no more no less. Because unlike the woman with the red face, these kids had done this before.