The sacrifices of our men and women in uniform are extraordinary. Often overlooked but just as impressive are the sacrifices made by military families. While the bravest of the brave are away protecting our nation, their loved ones are left home, missing them and worrying about them. It makes sense that when service members return to their families, the emotional response is like no other.
This week, Bristol Palin featured a beautiful story out of Texas in her Patheos blog. Thirteen-year-old basketball player Derrick Jenkins was shooting a free throw during his middle school basketball game. After missing the attempt a voice in back of him said “That’s alright, Derrick.” But it wasn’t a teammate or a referee. The words of encouragement came from Derrick’s mother, Lieutenant Colonel Cotina Jenkins-Sellers. Derrick’s mom was home and she surprised her son at his game. Derrick was so overwhelmed he ran off the court and collapsed against the gym wall, crying tears of joy. Mom was home and safe. Lt. Col. Jenkins-Sellers and her husband planned the whole reunion purposely around Derrick’s game. A memory that will always be special painted in family, country, and basketball.
This isn’t the first time a military member has shocked their family through the facade of sports. Last year, ESPN released a powerful video of various service members returning home to sweetly stun children, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and siblings. For all of ESPN’s flaws, this was a home run in every sense. True emotion. True love.
Our love of family and sports mixed with the pride we have in our exceptional country is a powerful concoction. Those with loved ones in the armed forces must endure a lot. Bristol Palin has a special understanding of this because of her brother Track who served in the Army. No wonder the touching video of Derrick Jenkins caught her eye.
We owe so much to our active military members and our veterans. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to the families who make it all possible for their loved ones to serve.