KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan — Going home.
It’s been an amazing two months, but it’s time to get back.
Time to see friends and family again. Time to resume our normal lives.
We’ve met many wonderful people on this trip — soldiers and civilians, Americans and Afghans. We’ve seen quite a bit of this beautiful country that faces so many tough challenges.
There are more stories and photos yet to share — look for them in the paper over the next few weeks.
It would simply take too long to recount each person who has helped us during the course of our travels. We are deeply grateful for the efforts of everyone who helped us move from base to base, kept us safe (and fed) and patiently answered our many questions.
We have endeavored to convey a sense of our soldiers’ lives here in Afghanistan, whether they live at a tiny outpost without running water or on a large base with all the amenities.
We’ve watched them laboring to accomplish a wide range of missions: from chasing insurgents and mentoring Afghan security forces to guarding detainees to constructing new barracks.
We’ve witnessed the sacrifices they — and their families back home — are making.
Fairly early in our travels, I groused to one soldier that my college basketball team had landed a spot in the NCAA tournament and would be coming to where I live, Washington, D.C., to play the first-round game.
All my friends would be there, I said, cheering on my beloved Missouri Tigers. And I was missing it.
Welcome to our world, he said. That’s what deployment means: missing things.
Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays come and go without dad or mom, brother or sister, son or daughter around to share them.
There was the specialist we met who watched via Skype from half a world away as his son was being born in Nebraska.
The young soldier who was stuck with another boring overnight shift in a guard tower, dreaming of his fiancee back in Iowa.
The Millard South teacher pulled away from the classroom for a year.
The single mom who left her four boys with family back in Nebraska so she could deploy.
And so many others. It’s important to remember what these people give up to serve their country.
We won’t forget.