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Last Tuesday, solider Mason Miller returned home early from a one year combat tour in Afghanistan. With the help of his next door neighbor and fellow combat veteran Scott Kelley, the Phoenix, Ariz., native set out to surprise his family who didn’t think he was coming home until the end of April. Their reactions are priceless and endearing.
With Kelley behind the camera, Mason first went to his father’s workplace, where he was in the middle of a business meeting. That meeting was adjourned the second Mason’s dad, Bernie, opened the door in utter shock to see his son standing there. His reaction is all-encompassing of the constant mix of worry and hope that our military families live with every day. In Scott’s own words, the reunion was, “One of the absolute best proud, loving dad moments ever caught.”
I challenge you to argue–and to not tear up.
Bernie’s reaction is everything that should exist between a father and a son, regardless of military circumstance. It’s pure compassion and frank love.
In addition, the two men taking part in the meeting were obviously equally as stunned as Bernie, but then again, who wouldn’t be? It’s amazingly refreshing to see them nonchalantly cast the day’s business aside in light of the things in this world that are unequivocally more important.
After giving Bernie a few minutes to settle down and grasp the fantastic reality that his son is now home safe and sound, Mason set out with his father and Kelley to surprise his sister at her job.
By a rough count, she probably hugs him more than 20 times in less than four minutes, seemingly still in disbelief that her brother is standing right in front of her.
To round out the family tour, Mason, Bernie, and Kelley then make their way over to a local school, where Mason’s mom, Sue, is a teacher. While in the midst of some class time in the library, Mason walks in and completely takes her breath away. She can’t even–understandably–say his name when embracing him for the first time in a year.
The children love it, too.
I’m happy to report that after notifying all his family members of his homecoming, Mason got to do what he had longed to do for more than a year: indulge in a cold Guinness draft and chow down on a delectable burger from In-And-Out.
Kelley’s words recalling the day are as poignant as it gets.
They are such a sweet family. It truly was an honor and a privilege to help execute this last mission with him before he got home and create memories that will last a lifetime.
I’ll certainly never forget it.
I don’t think I will any time soon, either, and we should all be gracious that Kelley took the time to help his good friend capture something so special and deeply moving.
I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude not just to Mason, but to every American soldier for his or her service, as well as to the Miller family and the families around our nation just like them. These families show unwavering support of our troops with every breath they take.
It’s people like them who allow us to enjoy the remarkable liberties that we all too often take for granted.
Thanks for your service, guys.
If you’d like to read the whole story of how the day unfolded from Kelley’s point of view, check out his blog, ManCaveZen. There are some killer taco recipes there, too.