By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
I left you in Part One with military spouses and prostitutes – quite the juxtaposition. So let me continue …
One of the most moving and emotional parts of the Coming Home series is when the service member walks down the tarmac. Spouses dissolve into tears and as they bury their heads on each other’s shoulders you can see their relief. Relief that the soldier is home safely and relief that, at least for the foreseeable future, they will be a united family unit again.
But the real story of the hardships of military life lie with the children. During the set up for the surprise homecoming, Matt Rogers spends time talking with the children in the family. These interviews offer a very sobering view of the sacrifices these kids make. Most of them are mature beyond their years. They have to be.
They see other children on their base receive news that a parent has died or been severely injured. With one parent gone these children learn to be more self-reliant, older siblings step up to take care of younger ones, and at important occasions in their life they are forced to acknowledge the reality that their mother or father will not be in attendance.
Birthdays and graduations are the events mentioned most often, but if one listens carefully to what the children confide to Matt you can tell that their parent is missed most in the smaller moments. A son wants to share with his dad that he made the basketball team, a daughter is starting school and her mom is not there. Parents are missed when kids are tucked into bed at night or when they come home from school with hurt feelings and need some comforting.
So when the Coming Home surprise unfolds and the children learn that the clown at the circus is their dad or the person in the ump outfit at the ballgame is their mom, it is one of the best moments on TV. Shock and disbelief are their first reactions, but then as they are wrapped in their parent’s arms something else happens. Most of these children begin to cry. Not normal “happy tears”. They shut their eyes and sob so hard that they can’t catch their breath. And in that instant you see all that they’ve been bravely holding in for so long: the worry, the absence, all the missed small moments. We know it’s coming every episode, and yet we cry every time.
Given how tremendous this program is, we were taken aback by the Lifetime Channel’s decision to replace it with a show about prostitution. Believe me, I have nothing against sex and I do realize the communal bar has been set pretty low for what passes for entertainment these days. But to suspend a show that pays tribute to the unacknowledged heroes among us with a show about a madam ….that is substrata stuff.
Apparently there are a lot of other people who feel as we do and have barraged Lifetime with emails calling them everything from pond scum to unpatriotic. Surprisingly, the “suits” at Lifetime listened. Coming Home will be returning to their line-up on May 30, the real Memorial Day. If you want an hour of TV that will make you humble, proud and appreciative of your small moments, I encourage you to tune in. I guarantee you won’t regret it.