I was scrolling through Instagram the other day, and I saw that a girl I used to go to school with was on ESPN’s Instagram account. Intrigued, I tapped on the post and saw that it was a video of her dad arriving home from a deployment during her brother’s basketball game. Although the video was taped a year ago, it warmed my heart to see her family so thrilled to be reunited.
I noticed that one of my friends had commented on the post, so I mindlessly looked through the comments to see the reactions of some of ESPN’s 15.7 million followers. In the middle of a sea of heart emojis, there was one comment that grabbed my attention. It was a longer comment, so it stuck out like a sore thumb among the multitude of praying hand emojis in varying skin tones. It said, “This is starting to get hella corny, I’ve already seen like a billion different videos of people getting all excited when there partner comes back from deployment.” [sic.]
First off, it’s THEIR. Just because it’s an Instagram comment, doesn’t mean you can’t use the proper form of their/there/they’re. I’m guilty of not being the most grammatically correct in my Instagram comments, but come on. Their/there/they’re? That’s kindergarten grammar. (Also, can everyone PLEASE, for the love of all things holy, use the proper form of your/you’re. I see wayyyy too many people comment “your beautiful” and it drives me INSANE. But I digress.)
Second off, this comment really boiled my blood. I didn’t expect to be this mad over a silly Instagram comment. I’m not one to overreact about what people say online, and I’ve never responded to a comment like this. I’m the kind of person who shrugs things off and doesn’t feed into the hate people spread online. The comment wasn’t even that aggressive! It just called the video “hella corny.” There are worse insults they could have used.
Yet, for some reason, I was set off by this comment. I felt inclined to defend this family’s honor against someone named @top_comment_god. (A worthy foe, eh?) I started crafting a response that was both scolding and non-aggressive.
“@top_comment_god it’s their dad,” I wrote (referencing the incorrect assumption my adversary had made regarding the relationship of the people in the video),“and it’s not easy to have someone you love thousands of miles away from you fighting for the safety of your country.” (Disregard my lack of commas and proper grammar, as well as my hypocrisy.)
Before hitting the “Post” button, I reflected on my own experiences with deployment. My dad has been deployed numerous times throughout my life. I was pretty young during the first few deployments, which coincided with both my birth and the birth of my younger brother. I don’t recall much about these stretches of time, just that I recognized he was gone.
His last deployment, however, I remember vividly. I was about ten at the time, and he was gone from November until May. That was a relatively short deployment, compared to most, but it felt like an eternity. It didn’t help that he was gone over the holidays, but we sent him plenty of care packages, filled with non-perishable food and Dollar Store Christmas decorations to keep everyone’s spirits up.
Around Christmas, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. I was disappointed that I couldn’t be there to help him “pin on his rank,” but we got to watch the ceremony over Skype.
I don’t really know what he was doing in Afghanistan at the time, and I’m not sure I want to know. I doubt he was out and about in the war zone, but I’d rather keep my memories untainted.
Eventually, after what seemed like forever, May arrived. We were ecstatic when that fateful day came; not only would we be reunited for our father, but we would get to go to the AIRPORT. (I was ten, and my brothers were six and four. The airport was basically Disney World. We got to ride the train and we got to watch airplanes...it was a blast! Once again, I digress.)
I vividly remember waiting by the gate, my eyes flitting from one passenger to another as hordes of people spilled out of the open doors. We were holding a homemade sign that said, “Welcome Home Dad,” and our neighbor had passed out small American flags to a small group of people waiting in chairs nearby. I remember my mom inhaling sharply and exclaiming “THERE HE IS!”
I remember spotting him, dressed in civilian clothes, and locking onto his location like a heat-seeking missile. I remember running towards him, abandoning the sign and flinging my arms around his neck and shedding a single tear as he hugged me tightly. I remember my brothers, following my lead, running into my dad’s open arms to join our group hug. I remember wiping frantically at my wet eyes, embarrassed to show this much emotion in public.
I remember traveling back to the car, where we exchanged gifts. He gave me two handmade bag tags, with my name sewn in both English and Arabic. I presented him with my masterpiece; a ceramic mug I had made at a local paint-your-own pottery place. On one side, it said, “Go Army!” (BEAT NAVY!) and on the other it said “I ❤ My Dad.” (The heart was camo, of course.) He grinned and said, “Thanks, love!”
I don’t remember that day as “hella corny.” It was a special day, full of love and family. For the first time in six months, we ate dinner together. Smiles were present on everyone’s face. We were all genuinely excited and happy to have him back.
To the haters on the internet, don’t shame people for being excited about their service members coming home. It’s not “hella corny.” They love their service members; they miss their service members. Their service members have to go to very dangerous places and are often put in very dangerous situations. They have a right to be excited to see them alive, healthy, and home.
I hit “Post.”
I reread my words twice before abandoning @top_comment_god in search of other disrespectful commenters. As I scanned the comments once again, my anger began to subside. I resolved not to let my emotions fuel my commenting ever again, but I felt good about it as I turned off my phone. I spoke out for what was right, although it was probably pretty ineffective. @top_comment_god will most likely not read it, and if they do, they probably won’t change their mind.
But hey, at least I know the correct form of their/there/they’re.