Home for the holidays

Published 7:31 am Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Post photo of 6-year-old L.J. Cleveland wrapped in his father’s camouflage-clad arms was worth more than a thousand words Wednesday, words like “love,” “sacrifice” and “honor.”

Stationed in Germany, Army Spc. Larrius Cleveland surprised his son by showing up for lunch at Forest Park Elementary School in Kannapolis on Tuesday. After a moment’s hesitation, L.J. glued himself to the front of his dad’s uniform, hugging him from head to toe. Cleveland was away for the past two Christmases, but this year he is home for the holidays.

The Clevelands’ story reminds us civilians of the sacrifices men and women in the Armed Forces and their families endure — spending long periods of time and holidays apart and missing the day-to-day activities that other families take for granted. A 6-year-old grows and changes rapidly.

Thank you to Specialist Cleveland and the millions who are serving or have served in the U.S. military around the world.

Civilians who want to put their gratitude into action should check out Operation Homefront (operationhomefront.net), which offers everything from toy drives to wounded warrior support.  A donation can help a military family through a difficult time or help provide housing for a recently discharged veteran. The USO and countless other organizations that help military families could also use your support.

But first and foremost, acknowledge the service and sacrifice of these proud men and women, and thank them. As reporter Elmer Davis once said, “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

Welcome home, Specialist Cleveland, and Merry Christmas.