Homecomings. They mean something different to each of us. You may think of football and tiaras or traveling to see relatives for the holidays, but for military families a homecoming is so much more. Yesterday, the USS Winston Churchill, a destroyer that is part of the Truman Carrier Strike Group, came home to Norfolk after a 7 month deployment. The weather was bitterly cold. (Well, it was bitterly cold for Norfolk!) But the piers and heated tents were still crowded with families carrying signs, flags and a lot of nervous anticipation.
Asthe owner of my own business, military homecomings can be a pit of a pain. The schedules are always changing; I basically have to block out an entire day for one homecoming photoshoot because I can't risk the time changing to interfere with another appointment. I have to drive 30 to 45 minutes to Norfolk or Virginia Beach, fight the crowds, find parking and wait in the cold or heat. (For the record, I think the heat in July is worse!) And, because I do these sessions for free for military families through Operation: Love Reunited, I don't make any money. But I take every homecoming session I can.
Why? Because I've never done anything more rewarding as a photographer. I can't count how many homecomings I've attended, but every single homecoming makes me cry. Every raw emotion I capture reminds me exactly why I became a photographer. Every single reunion reminds me of how important my family is. Every single hug, kiss and tear fills me with gratitude for the amazing gift that military families give us every day. My time and my images seem like the least I can do to say thank you.
Yesterday, I wanted to shout thank you once again as I captured the reunion of Bryce and Kelly when the USS Winston Churchill came home. This wasn't their first deployment as a military family, but this reunion was pretty special. You see, Kelly is 7 months pregnant and Bryce had never seen her baby bump in person.
Welcome home, Bryce! And thank you Bryce and Kelly for all that you sacrifice for your country every day.