FORT CARSON, Colo. — Family and friends gathered in a gymnasium to demonstrate to their sons, daughters, husbands and wives in uniform that even though popular support for the war has waned, support for the men and women who fight it has not.
The welcome home ceremony was short. The reunions sweet, with much news to catch up on.
"First, did you know that Rumsfeld resigned?" a woman asks her uniformed daughter who shakes her head. "I think we're going to see some positive change."
The Stark family came in force from Texas to welcome back William. They don't want to see their soldier's sacrifice, and those of others, betrayed by politics.
"Every soul lost, we hurt for them," Stark's aunt says.
"Nobody ever wins a war," Stark says.
"And we're just so glad to have him home," his aunt continues, as she starts to cry.
From here, a well deserved rest, but not a long one. These soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division have been told to be ready to redeploy as soon as next Fall.
As one division comes home, across the country, another prepares to leave. Capt. Brian Neil and his wife, Capt. Tracie Henry Neil, will deploy to Iraq from Fort Stewart, Ga., together this winter — and together will try to ignore the roar from Washington.
"Mostly, we just tune it out," Tracie says.
"If I get emotionally involved then I kinda, I don't know, then I'll get annoyed. Then I'll get angry," Brian says.
A sentiment some soldiers already in Iraq say they will share if they are pulled back.
"You're talking about soldiers who, yes, they have lost their lives, but for what? If we don't stay here and complete the mission, what kind of tribute is that to them?" says Staff Sgt. Tanasha Stachelczyk.
Whether troops are coming, going, or already in Iraq, an old army saying seems to be resonating with them right now: We preserve democracy. We don't practice it.