As the United States closes the door on more than a decade of war and a period of remarkably high operational tempo, the burden shouldered by the troops has been well documented. But for every unit leaving for war, every casket that comes home, there’s a family tethered to the fate of that soldier, airman, sailor, or Marine.
Deployments are taxing, they are long, and they are often repetitive. But eventually, they are over, and troops get to reunite with the ones they love.
We compiled some of the shots from military photographers and professional journalists alike that best capture the feeling of love and warmth when troops get to see their families again.
It's nothing new. Here was the scene in 1973 when Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm was released after spending 5 and a half years in a POW camp in Vietnam.
The result is a moment that crosses all barriers. This photo, taken just five months after the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' instantly become an iconic shot.
Many servicemembers are gone for as long as a year. Like in the case of this sergeant in the Arkansas Army National Guard who spent a year in Iraq.
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