By Monica McDougal
Sunlight filled the plane's cabin as passengers began to lift the blinds covering their windows. The pilot had just announced that the plane would be beginning its descent.
In an aisle seat, a middle aged man wearing a navy t-shirt marked with the logo of the Wounded Warrior Project held two teddy bears in his arms. He bounced his prosthetic leg nervously. An elderly woman sitting across the aisle from the man asked him if flying made him uncomfortable. He nodded with a smile. When the wheels of the plane touched down on the runway, the man gritted his teeth and clutched the teddy bears tightly to his chest. He kept his eyes shut until the plane came to a stop.
When the seat belt light flashed off, the sound of seat belts unfastening filled the cabin and passengers quickly left their seats. The man with the teddy bears waited patiently for the aisle to clear. Then, he stood up and retrieved a camouflage duffel bag from the overhead compartment. He walked down the aisle slowly, the two teddy bears tucked carefully between his arm and his side.
As he exited the gate, high-pitched screams began to echo through the airport. The man dropped his bag and the teddy bears to the floor and crouched down with open arms as two little girls with bright blond hair ran towards him. He enveloped them in his arms as tears poured down his face. A woman stood close by clutching a sign in her left hand that said, “Welcome home, daddy!” Her right hand wiped tears from her eyes. The man motioned for the woman to join the embrace.
Onlookers stood by, many with tears welling up in their own eyes, as the family was reunited. A few minutes later, the family stood up and the man gathered his things from the floor. As he handed the teddy bears to his little girls, he told them he loved them. The girls embraced him yet again.