Welcoming Them Home                          
From Rob Lobitz

I’ve seen many of my friends and family leave for active duty and it wrenches my heart every time. The respect that I have for their commitment and strength is deep in a way that I can’t describe in text. The only feelings that have surpassed the feeling of respect are relief and excitement when one of them comes home safely. This is an event to celebrate and we must do so in a way that is worthy of these courageous men and women.

The first consideration is the “party”. I use quotation marks because it doesn’t necessarily need to be a party in the truest sense of the word. While some people rent banquet halls to celebrate, I like things a little simpler. If your son or daughter has a favorite restaurant, you have your location. Call a week ahead and let the establishment know why you will be giving them your patronage. You may be surprised how accommodating they can be. Most of us have friends and family in the service so we know what it’s like.

Secondly, there’s no place like home, in the truest sense of the word – back in their own home with you. Maybe you’ve kept his/her bedroom the way it was, or perhaps you’ve converted it to something like an office. Either way, they’ve been sleeping in a set of military grade bunk beds for so long that they’re going to want to spend time in their own bed and be welcomed home to warm and comforting memories. If you've already converted his/her room, it may be worth the effort to make it their space again – at least partially.

You don’t have to dig their childhood bunk beds out of the basement, but having the comfort of their own bed ready for them, surrounded by their home-life possessions, will go a long way.

Cook them a big, heaping breakfast for their first morning home. I’m not saying that military food is horrible slop (it’s actually pretty good), but it doesn’t compare to waking up in a plush bed, miles away from those military bunk beds, to the smell of fresh-made griddle cakes!

Remind them that they have a mom that loves them. Remind them that they will always be your kids. They know it, it’s always good to remind them.

Finally, please tell your Marine for me, “Thank you for your service to our country.”