Many military families in Fort Drum were prepared to face Christmas with part of their heart deployed, but instead they were greeted with news from their soldiers saying, "I'll be home for Christmas."
2-22 1st Brigade Combat Team arrived home from Afghanistan Dec 15th, 16th, and 17th just in time for the holidays. Fort Drum is home to the prestigious 10th Mountain division and is found outside of Watertown, NY just an hour outside of Syracuse. Many families braved the latest blizzard that hit the midwest and the northeast to be there for the Welcome Home ceremony.
The Welcome Home ceremony for Main Body 4 took place at 1 am on Thursday the 16th. Despite the time of night not a single person waiting in the audience was tired. Families and friends showed up early greatly anticipating the reunion with their soldier. At the McGrath Gym on Fort Drum people waited while listening to Christmas Carols from a military band and they had the opportunity to watch via video the plane land and their soldiers unload.
Soldiers at Fort Drum marching into a welcome home ceremony.
People waiting in the crowd wore shirts and held up signs with the name of their loved one. Some children also wore camophlage outfits mimicing the Battle Duty Uniform of the Army. They spoke excitedly with one another about their happiness at their soldier's return. The anticipation and relief were almost palpable in the gymnasium.
At 1 am the main ceremony commenced with the triumphant march of tired combat boots hitting the gymnasium floor. The returning men received a greeting from the soldiers left behind and then sang the 10th Mountain and Army theme songs.
When the ceremony was over a rush of families came from the bleachers to tearfully embrace their loved ones. Truly it was the best Christmas present any of them could have asked for.
Author's note: I was one of the lucky ones who was able to greet her husband at this ceremony. My joy is overwhelming, but it is not without some sadness. Some families were not able to hug their loved ones because of the cost of travel, or even worse because the soldier didn't make it home. My love and prayers go out to everyone in the military during these very difficult times. My heart also goes out to the rest of the Fort Drum families whose husbands, siblings, and children are still stationed in Afghanistan. God Bless, and Merry Christmas.