1. On Oct. 31, more than 4,000 Navy sailors and Marines returned home to their families following nine months of deployment.
2. Friends and families waited for their loved ones with signs and smiles on the pier at Norfolk Naval Station.
3. Everyone cheered when the ship was finally moored and the long-awaited reunion was underway.
4. Especially when loved ones began to spot each other in the crowd.
5. A lot can happen when you're deployed for nine months.
6. Some of the returning members of the military met their children for the first time.
8. New fathers are allowed to exit the ship before everyone except the service member chosen for the traditional first kiss.
10. Of course, all children grow over nine months.
12. And even though there are many amazing programs designed to keep deployed families close, it's hard on everyone.
14. But that makes each homecoming even more special.
16. When you're away from your loved ones for nine months, sometimes things become more clear.
18. But, most of all, homecomings — short or long — are about love.
20. The love of country that calls men and women to military service.
22. And the love of family that keeps them going while they're away.
23. Thank you to all the service members and military families.
Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 6055 A264 DADD AADC 347E 5986 547C C11C DD7D 176A.
Contact Ellie Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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