Bravo Battery comes home this weekend after a 10-month deployment to Eastern Europe. I still remember last December’s activation ceremony on a sunny, mild Saturday in Yankton, and it sometimes feels like it was just last week. For family members of the soldiers, of course, it probably feels like it was years ago.

Indeed, a lot has happened while those soldiers were gone, and I began thinking how much has changed and how much has been endured while those men and women were half a world away.

When the Bravo Battery soldiers left Yankton about a week before Christmas last year, very few people here were familiar with the term “bomb cyclone.”

In fact, when the soldiers left, we could walk the entire length of Auld-Brokaw Trail without having to detour around destroyed sections.

When the soldiers left, Lake Andes was relatively high and dry.

To be honest, while the soldiers were away, many of us saw things, created by wild weather, that we probably hadn’t seen before. For me, it included sights such as huge slabs of ice, washed out of stock dams by surging floodwater, lying along the sides of roads; bridges so overtopped by water that there was literally no sign at all of them even being there; and major flooding TWICE in one year.

Actually, since the troops left, Yankton County has been covered by one disaster declaration and has another one warming up in the bullpen.

Meanwhile, when the soldiers were away, the Minnesota Twins had themselves a nice summer.

While the troops were gone, Hollywood crowned a new all-time box office champion.

When they shipped out, nobody was really talking about Ukraine or using terms like “quid pro quo” in everyday conversations.

When the soldiers left, the Green Bay Packers were sinking in the NFC North standings. As the troops come home, not so much.

When the soldiers were activated, the water storage situation on the Missouri River was fairly well under control. As they come home, it’s an ominous question mark with winter looming.

Since the soldiers left, South Dakota has changed governors.

When the soldiers shipped out, Mount Marty College didn’t have a football program, nor did it have anything happening in the vacant land to the west of the campus, which isn’t so vacant anymore.

When the soldiers left town last December, area farmers were likely thinking about what they would be planting in their fields the following spring. As the soldiers come home, the harvested fields they may see don’t truly convey how many of those planting plans were never realized.

When the soldiers were activated, the hotel project by the Yankton Mall was making no progress at all. As they return … well, I guess they need at least one fixed point of reference somewhere.

As the soldiers come home, they do so with the knowledge that they can never again take a dip in the Memorial Park swimming pool.

In the 10 months that the soldiers have been gone, the Dow Jones Industrial average has risen about 2,600 points, but the U.S. debt has grown by about $800 billion.

Since they’ve been gone, we’ve lost “Mean Gene” Okerlund.

When the soldiers departed for deployment, they left behind a divided America. They come home to a REALLY divided America.

While the soldiers were gone, the president apparently wanted to buy Greenland.

While the troops were away, seemingly half the Democrats in the country wanted to be president.

While Bravo Battery was gone, Washington Nationals’ superstar outfielder Bryce Harper signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. But the Nationals didn’t seem to suffer too much.

In the 10 months that the troops were gone, seven movies grossed $1 billion worldwide — six of them were under the Disney umbrella.

While the soldiers were out of the country, the NBA title went out of the country, too.

When the troops were activated, Christmas was looming and they faced the hard reality of being separated from their loved ones for the holidays. As they come home, Halloween is in the headlights and some of the troops can now take their kids or grandkids trick-or-treating.

While the soldiers were gone, they were deeply, dearly missed …

In that sense — and despite all that has transpired these past 10 months — Yankton hasn’t changed at all.

That’s something I hope the soldiers of Bravo Battery know as they come home. Their service to our country is vital, appreciated and lauded, but their presence back at home is — and always will be — celebrated like nothing else.

Follow @kelly_hertz on Twitter.   

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