A wonderful homecoming

Published 10:12 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Everyone likes a warm welcome home. Whether returning home from a day at work or coming back after a four-day business trip, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as finding one’s family excited and eager for the reunion. How much more wonderful it must feel to return home to family after long months of military service overseas in a war zone.

American veterans have experienced those tearful family reunions ever since the end of the Revolutionary War. But the reunions have not always been joyful occasions shared by the community at large. Vietnam veterans, in particular, often have memories of returning home to a less-than-eager reception by people from their communities.

By and large, though, the pendulum seems to have swung back the other direction on such things, and today’s returning service members often find themselves greeted by Patriot Guard riders and others who wish to honor their service.

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It seems likely, though, that few have received the hero’s welcome the Riverview neighborhood rolled out this weekend for Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Elliott, returning home from Afghanistan.

As his wife drove him through the neighborhood on their way home from the airport, Elliott received a motorcade escort from a group of neighborhood children on their bicycles. The streets leading to the Elliott home had been decked out in American flags, yellow ribbons, homemade signs and other expressions of support and appreciation.

Elliott, speaking to a reporter on Monday, said, “I was stunned. I’ve never come home to anything like that before.”

His wife, Virginia, gave their neighbors high praise for making her husband feel so good to come home. “It’s all very overwhelming,” she said. “It’s such a nice neighborhood we live in that shows such pride and respect for someone that’s put his life on hold to do what he needed to do. It was amazing.”

Indeed. Amazing and wonderful. The display was a fine testament to a fine community.