The patriotic balloon tied to Rosemary Wallace's yellow ribbon may have wilted. But because Wallace's first grandson was home from Afghanistan in time for an early Thanksgiving feast, her spirits were sky high.
"For Ashley to be home and safe and back with his family is the most important thing, gift we could ever have," she beamed.
Ashley Evans is a Second Battalion 20th Special Forces sergeant with the Mississippi National Guard. He's also the faather of 11 year old Anja and four year old A.J.
"I was just so happy to get back home," he said while standing in his grandmother's living room, "and get back and see green trees and green grass and see my family most of all, and just get back into normal life."
Normal life for the Brandon native includes laughter, something Mrs. Evans missed during her husband's 10 month deployment.
"I told him, him being home would be the only Christmas present that I would need," she said, "the only thing I would need for Thanksgiving."
After nearly a year of gobbling MREs, Angela Evans had a pretty good idea what her husband would need for Thanksgiving.
"I'm going to be cooking him a turkey dinner, and he isn't going to be eating it with a mouthful of sand," she laughed. "That's what I'm thankful for."
Ashley Evans was thankful "for being back home with my family."
So was Evans' grandmother. If you drove past her home in the Enclave, you noticed she didn't remove the yellow ribbon from her tree. She won't until every military family experiences her Thanksgiving joy.
"No matter how we feel about being in Iraq and Afghanistan," she said, "we have to support our troops."
by Brad Kessie
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