How do we begin to thank the individuals who bravely risk their lives in the service of this great nation, especially when it’s someone we love? It’s a hard question to answer, but giving them a hero's welcome back seems like a good place to start. Such was the case in Jackson Thursday as U.S. Army soldier Jeffrey Howard returned home after a nine month tour in Afghanistan.
“I knew there would be plenty of love when I got home. I just wasn't expecting this big of a turnout,” said Jeffry Howard.
Sometimes emotions are revealed subtly - this was not one of those times. One just had to sit back and watch as Jeff received hug, after hug, after hug from everyone who came.
“It’s special, very, very special,” said Arlie Howard, Sr.
“I told him to have faith in god and pray that he would bring him home and that we would be here waiting on him and today is the day,” said Arlie Howard, Jr.
“I told him that I loved him,” said Marissa Howard
Jeff says this raw, authentic love isn't limited to just this moment. He says it's always been there, and it's the thing that got him through all those months away from home.
“You just have to remember you have all these great people back home waiting on you to return and have something like this.. just the love of family is the only thing can carry you through,” Jeff Howard said.
Does this mean Jeff says his journey was without challenges? Of course not, but challenges can be set aside for another day. This moment belongs to happiness and the enduring spirit of family, friends, and love.