Every military spouse creates a homecoming to-do list a mile long. Somewhere in between “clean house” and “shave legs”, most of us add “make homecoming sign”. Out come the markers, poster board and patriotic rhymes. But why go through all the trouble of making a sign for such a short period of time? In short, it’s because homecoming signs have so much more meaning than just the words on the poster board.
Logistically speaking homecoming signs are really helpful. Many military homecomings are large affairs with big crowds and it can be hard to spot loved ones amid a sea of people. Having a big sign with your service member’s name on it can help them track you down.
But there is more to homecoming signs than just what meets the eye, especially civilian eyes. To go through a deployment can be heartbreaking, exhausting and more than just a little terrifying. Each day can feel like a really slippery mountain you have to climb solo. Eventually, you’re not sure that you have any mountain climbing left in you.
And then you realize that homecoming day is getting closer and very soon you’ll have someone to help you climb those mountains. So you get excited and want to celebrate. You want to celebrate surviving the nights alone and the days when everything went wrong. You want to celebrate your relationship making it through all that time apart. You want to celebrate flat out being able to hug your spouse again.
So you break out the poster board and the markers. Heck, you may even throw on some puffy paint and glitter glue. You use all the colors and 12 exclamation points. Why? Because you’re dang excited! That sign is part of the celebration, it’s part of surviving deployment. It tells the whole world that your relationship is now deployment strong.
That’s why I will stand in the middle of an airport to greet my husband, holding a sign that tells him (and the world) how happy I am to have him home.