A Soldier Returns Home

On July 4th, like many Americans, I will indulge in everything that is America. Hot dogs. Fireworks. Beer. But what about July third or fifth? Am I not American on those days? Am I limited to being American for one summer day or have many Americans misinterpreted the significance of Independence Day? As I came to find out recently, the Fourth of July is just a date for some families. The real celebration is when they see their loved ones return home from tours of military duty.

As I spent my summer in Southern California, I was privileged and honored to follow a family who saw their loved one return after a year of military service in Guantanamo Bay. That family happens to be my uncle’s family. That solider is my cousin, Marco Martinez.

On the day he returned home, I captured a series of emotions from anxiousness to overwhelming happiness. In this photo essay, you see how one family changed my outlook on the Fourth of July. It’s a day to celebrate independence with loved ones, but also a day to appreciate those loved ones who returned home safe.

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