What began as a bittersweet tribute turned into a wholly unexpected moment of joy for one military family.
It began as an ordinary basketball game in Knoxville, Tennessee.
On the evening of Dec. 9, the family of Navy Lieutenant Commander Zachary Smith was in the stands to cheer on the University of Tennessee Volunteers, taking in the game and, presumably, missing their father after 10 long months of deployment, Outkick reported.
But during one commercial break, the family was spotlighted and asked to watch a video of the father and husband, who was stationed in Guantanamo Bay.
Then, their bittersweet longing turned into pure and unexpected joy, according to WBIR-TV.
As they stood on the court watching the video, a uniformed man marched onto the court, charging towards them.
To the utter amazement of the six children, it was none other than Lieutenant Commander Zachary Smith himself.
Captured in a video shared by Tennessee Basketball to X, formerly Twitter, the joy of the family seeing their loved one after 10 long months of deployment is palpable.
— Tennessee Athletics (@Vol_Sports) December 9, 2023
Their jaws dropped. They screamed and wept with joy. They all pounced on him for a long-awaited group hug.
This heartwarming video is a perfect encapsulation of joy and love, and a good reminder for us right before the holidays.
In times of war, as in Ukraine and Israel right now, or even peace, as in the U.S. right now (at least for the moment), it’s easy to forget, amidst all the debates of the ethics of going to war, the sacrifices of our armed forces,.
Even during times of peace, the men and women of our armed forces must make decisions and, in the course of following orders and serving our country, shoulder burdens that most of us would find unthinkable.
Our men and women who serve in our armed forces make enormous sacrifices, leaving behind their spouses and families to dedicate their lives to protecting our rights and freedoms.
And military families bear their own share of sacrifice and suffering as they move all around the country or wait for months or even years at a stretch for their loved one to return home.
As this heartwarming video reminds us, the men and women of our armed forces do incredible work while making enormous sacrifices.
This Christmas, let’s remember those families who help shoulder these burdens to protect our country and extend to them our heartfelt gratitude.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.