Some of the soldiers are from right here in Central Illinois. They're from all over the state, but no matter what town they call home, all the soldiers were excited to set foot back in the Land of Lincoln. And, so were their families.
"We've been counting down the days for, I don't know, the last ten months."
For Amanda Sanders, that day is finally here. Like many others, her husband has been gone since the first of the year. The unit was in Afghanistan, patrolling roads and disarming explosives.
"He's the backbone of the family. We've missed him quite a bit."
And he's missed quite a bit here too. Like the birth of his baby girl, Grace.
"I don't know if I'm more excited to see him or if I'm more excited for him to meet his new daughter."
So, with one final command, comes a burst of cheers and a reunion nine months in the making.
"I've been waiting for this moment since she was born."
"It's an amazing feeling. I just tried to stay focused and get through the ceremony so I could go and see this small bundle of joy."
In the end, it was nothing but smiles and lots of hugs for everyone here, finding new light in the small things.
"I'm just glad I get to see and talk to people for real, not through a camera or printers."
And a new perspective on the world.
"I look at life a different way and just appreciate it more. I'm really proud to be one of the select few willing to do it, but I don't want to do it again anytime soon."
The Sanders' say they're headed to Decatur to surprise the rest of the kids who don't know their dad is back home.
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