I'm headed to the JFK airport in just a couple of hours to welcome home my new deputy after he served a six-month deployment, boots-on-the-ground, in Baghdad. Needless to say it will be quite an emotional event joined by his wife, family and close friends in the area. He, like me, is a Navy public affairs officer, and I am very much looking forward to hearing the "inside scoop" on how operations, specifically military public affairs and media relations, are fairing in our nation's War in Iraq.
The timing of his return is impeccable. At the peak of all the planning of fanfare and festivities surrounding the USS New York (LPD 21) commissioning, this moment gives me time to pause and reflect on exactly why this commissioning is so special. With seven and a half tons of World Trade Center steel in its hull, this unique ship unites our nation's past, present and future like no other, because so long as we have dedicated forces fighting to preserve freedom the world over, we will always have cause to celebrate those who have taken part in that preservation of freedom -- through an election-win, or a ship's commissioning, or even a welcome home gathering.
My deputy, a native New Yorker, is returning home safely, and we have all the reason in the world to be grateful and proud of his service to our nation. Welcome home, Sean!