America's military families often spend the holiday season the way they do the remainder of the year: away from their loved ones. But for a lucky few, there's a hard-won homecoming. The emotional impact of the returning soldier has been depicted by everyone from Norman Rockwell to Oliver Stone, but with today's flip phones and camcorders, families can record the moment themselves. The Web is flooded with these home-shot reunions, but no site is as thorough as Welcome Home Blog, which contains hundreds of these teary embraces. A quick shot of good feelings in the midst of two tough ongoing wars, the site gets thousands of daily visitors.
"Everyone knows that feeling, of finally seeing someone that they love come home," says UNC-Wilmington student Chase Holfelder, who started Welcome Home blog in May 2010 after a clip he posted went viral. Holfeder doesn't know anyone in the military; he's simply filling a need no one else had, and videos are sent in by military families all over the world. The joy of watching the clips, he says, "transcends political stance. It doesn't matter what you think about the wars."
We've compiled some of the most heartwarming clips from this holiday season below. Whether you're home for the holidays -- or wish you were (or weren't, for that matter) -- it's hard not to get choked up watching these clips.
An emotional airport reunion:
A surprise from Afghanistan for Mom:
A sailor meets his mom at her hospital job:
A soldier and his dad conspire to surprise Mom at the airport:
A Marine comes home for Thanksgiving dinner:
Sisters celebrate a November reunion:
A soldier reunites with her dad:
An airman drops in on his mom:
The family dogs greet their favorite soldier: