LITTLE FALLS, Minn. – What a military homecoming! Cooper Waldvogel loves his mom more than military protocol. And Facebook loves him for it. The 3-year-old boy could not wait for his mom, whom he hadn’t seen for 9 months, to be released from this military formation on her return from Afghanistan with her National Guard unit. Ignoring military protocol, Cooper ran to jump into his mom’s arms as she stood in formation, waiting to be released.
Last December, Cooper’s dad returned from his own tour in Afghanistan. Because of the overlap in their military deployments, Cooper’s mom and dad hadn’t seen each other in 19 months. Thankfully, they have family nearby to help take care of Cooper and provide him with stability. But in Cooper’s short life, he and his mom and dad have all been together only about half the time.
Sadly, this situation is not uncommon for dual-military parents and their kids. Many of our military children are having to learn to live for significant periods of their lives without either parent at home. I’m not sure whether it would be harder on the parent or the child in that situation.
God Bless our military families, and bring all our service members home safely. The endure so much separation, and sacrifice so much, so that the rest of us can live in relative safety and freedom. Please be sure to express your gratitude whenever you have the opportunity. Most service members will tell you they’re “just doing their jobs,” but they are remarkable men and women who have earned our respect and appreciation. You may embarrass them by thanking them, but inwardly, they appreciate your expression of gratitude.