This Homecoming Will Not Be Televised

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I don’t like surprises. Even good surprises. They make me nervous. And being the center of attention during any type of public surprise would be the worst possible scenario.

But I wonder if I’m alone in my distaste for public feel-good moments because there sure seem to be a lot of them. Andy Warhol was right: "In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes." In our world of Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and 24-hour news coverage, it seems like surprises are the rule, not the exception.

The other day I caught a rare moment of morning television. Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb were discussing public marriage proposals. Apparently some guy set off a smoke bomb in the middle of an interstate as a precursor to popping the question. And that’s pretty tame compared to the Russian millionaire who faked his own death before proposing. Or the American man who videotaped himself piloting a small plane with his girlfriend in the passenger seat. Can you guess the rest?

Yep. He pretended the aircraft was malfunctioning and about to crash before popping the question.

Most of the Guard girlfriends I know would be having none of that.

Which brings us to a different (and much saner) type of surprise: the surprise televised military reunion, popularized by shows like Coming Home. This topic has been discussed by military significant others on forums such as SpouseBuzz. Opinions vary widely.

My own opinion has changed over the past ten years. In the beginning, I loved them. I saw them as an opportunity to make sure our fellow Americans didn’t forget that we are at war. Now, they feel contrived. I don’t think any moment—no matter how well-planned it is—can match the moment when our soldiers and airmen are released from formation to greet their families and friends. I also think that a 30 second feel-good moment doesn’t give an accurate representation of the months before, during, and after a deployment.

But, then again, I’m kind of a stick in the mud. Of course, I’m happy to see any safe and happy homecoming. I understand that every family is different and that the public loves them. I am still an absolute sucker for any military pets caught on tape when Mommy or Daddy comes home.

I’m curious how our Guard family feels about surprise reunions. Do you love them? Hate them? Mixed feelings? Would you want to be surprised? What about your kids?

Mary Corbett is the Author of The List and National Guard 101: A Handbook for Spouses. Her work has been featured on the Today Show, Fox News Channel and other media outlets.

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