For Jennifer and Esteban Jimenez, their homecoming Sept. 18 was a time of joy they shared not only with their kids but also with reporters and well-wishers at FishHawk Creek Elementary School in Hillsborough County, Florida.
With her four-year-old son, Esteban, in hand, Jennifer Jimenez picked up her husband at Tampa International Airport, a day earlier than she had anticipated. At FishHawk Creek, the couple signed out their daughters early from school, to greet their dad for his surprise homecoming.
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With her youngest daughter, Isabella, 5, on her lap, and her sister, Analisa, 9, looking on, Jennifer Jimenez in a video interview spoke both about the joys of having her husband home safely and her deep regard for the troops that remain overseas, and the sacrifices made by military families.
"We were expecting it tomorrow but it’s a wonderful surprise for it to have happened today," she said about her husband's homecoming. "We’re finally a family again."
The feeling, she added, is one "you don’t understand unless you go through it, but it’s an amazing feeling and I’m especially happy for my kids and very proud of my husband and thankful for all the support that the community has given to us over the duration of his deployment."
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In her remarks, Jennifer Jimenez paid homage to the troops that remain overseas. Her husband echoed a similar sentiment, noting that it was hard to leave behind his fellow soldiers. "That's your sense of honor and pride," he said. "You want to be there for them and with them."
As for his wife, what would she like to say to the troops overseas? In her video interview, Jennifer Jimenez made those sentiments clear:
Thank you for all of your service, that you’re always in our hearts and prayers, and though this day is a celebration for us you’re not forgotten. We remember the sacrifices of all the families, and for those [who] aren’t fortunate enough to make it home. You’re all with us in our hearts and we’re incredibly proud of your service. So, thank you.