By Amy Falkofske
Residents of New Bristow Village lined the street in front of the home of recently deployed Navy sailor Michael Graham and welcomed him with handmade posters, American flags and cheers on Friday evening.
It all started when Graham’s mother, Julie Graham, posted on the neighborhood Facebook page that she planned to decorate her house for her son’s homecoming. Her intention was to make sure she wasn’t breaking any Homeowners Association rules, but when neighbors got wind that a member of the military was returning home, they decided to go all out and give him a first class homecoming.
Graham said she couldn’t express what it meant to her “that neighbors that you don’t even really know well would come out and welcome your son home after an eight-month deployment.”
“I think it’s very nice of everybody coming out on their Friday night,” she said.
One of those neighbors was Robert Klimklewicz, who also brought his son Benjamin, 6, said it was about “supporting our country and supporting our troops and welcoming a man back to his home.”
“I thought it would be nice to pay respect to him coming home from deployment,” said Michael’s childhood friend Morgan Gubesch.
Graham’s mother told him that a few people would be around when he got home, but he wasn’t prepared for the large welcome that greeted him.
“She told me there was going to be people around, but I didn’t realize it was going to be such a big turnout…It means a lot. It really does. I never expected this,” said Graham.
Now that he is home, Graham plans to “spend time napping with his dogs, hiking with his brother and figuring out Pokemon go. He’s also looking for a good volunteer opportunity, something preferably with animals,” said his mom.