They have to leave us.
They try to do it strongly.
We have to let them go. We try to do it gracefully.
They have to go far away. We have to stay put. But it doesn’t always happen fast. Sometimes it drags out over days. Days of waiting to leave. Days of knowing they are technically still here. But we can’t see them. Then they are gone. And they have to do hard things. They have to live in hard places. They miss us and we miss them. We try to be brave like them. Things happen to all of us. But they miss our things. And we miss their things. It’s hard for each of us to understand the other’s things.
And then one day they’re back. And there’s more waiting. Agonizing minutes and hours of waiting. We can see them. We can almost touch them. We are about to lose what’s left of our minds. And then
Welcome home. And welcome back. And whatever the world is like, it will always be changing–but the reason we send you and the reason we wait for you is the same as the reason you go and the reason you go again, and again: we love our country and what it was built for and we love each other because we have this in common.