Col. Morrison describes his heart-melting surprise family reunion at Miller Park
The other reason, too, is we're a military family; we've been through this. Every time my wife and I see one of these reunions, I think I sob worse than she does. Because, like you said, you have that level of empathy.
And I would agree with you to a point, but also say, I don't know if you truly appreciate it – and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. I hope you don't fully understand what it's like because, you know, you shouldn't have to, if you don't choose it.
We chose this life, and I'm not trying to make us sound like martyrs or anything. I don't wanna push that on anybody, because it is the hardest part of my job, being away from the family. This job, I love being in the military, I love being in the Army, I always have. But the hardest part about it is being away from the family. It is the one thing that strains and stresses on our family above and beyond anything else, is just being apart.
So when you are reunited, it's an incredible feeling anyway, and then to make it even more special. It hopefully makes it ... it compensates for the sacrifices that the kids have had to make over the last year to make an event special.
When did you join the Army? It was well before your oldest son was born, right?
Yeah, absolutely. I enlisted in 1992 in the reserves, but I came on active duty in 1995. Once I graduated from UW-Whitewater, I was a member of their ROTC detachment and commissioned out of there as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1995. And I've been on active duty ever since.
And when did you get married?
We got married in 2000. Well, OK, we got married twice, believe it or not. The wedding that we celebrate was May 26 of 2001 – that's when we actually had our ceremony. But we had been married for over a year before that.
The date everybody recognizes and remembers is May 26, 2001. We ran off to the courthouse because I was deployed to Korea for a year and wanted to make sure she was taken care of in the event anything happened while I was gone.
Were you guys always planning on having a family, regardless of what your deployment and service schedule was going to be?
Absolutely. It was never a doubt that we were gonna have a family.
What is that like, balancing your family life and work life, especially when you're away?
Well, I can simply say, I'm married to the greatest woman in the world. People confuse me with the hero because I wear a uniform, but she's my hero. I say that without any hyperbole. I don't know how military spouses do it.
I've got it easy; I leave and I worry about my job. When I leave, she has to do everything. She has to fill what I was doing, she has to be there for the kids, she has to be there for herself, and she's the one that has to bear the burden of – what little bit of free time she has, she's spending it worrying about whether or not something's going on with me, whether or not I'm in harm's way.
So, how they do it, I don't know. And my wife, over the last year, all she did was she worked as a preschool teacher, she finished up her Master's in early childhood development, continued raising two kids, held down the house and was both Dad and Mom and worried about me.
Shit, all I did is my job. She was the one that had it hard.
How has the transition been from Wisconsin to living in Illinois?
Both my wife and I were born and raised in the Milwaukee area. I went to Mukwonago High School. My wife went to Mukwonago High School. She's a Badger graduate, I'm a Warhawk graduate. We met when we were both in college; I actually worked for her parents. They owned a restaurant in Mukwonago and I was working there while my future wife was working there.
Now, we're in DeKalb, Illinois, which is where my last job was at Northern Illinois University. That's where we are right now, until Washington. And it kills me a little bit – I do have Illinois plates on my car, and it kills me every time I have to go into Wisconsin, because people confuse me for one of those invading southerners.
Ah, yes, a FIB.
(laughs) Yes. But we are Wisconsin, born and bred. We will always consider ourselves Wisconsinites.
I'm obligated to ask you this, for myself and on behalf of everyone who has watched the video. That moment at Miller Park – you've snuck up behind your family, you tap Trey on the shoulder and he turns around and it's just total surprise and pure joy. Can you describe what you felt? Can you even put the emotions into words?
(long pause) It's funny. I've been thinking about that moment, but haven't really tried to put it into words. Because it's a whirlwind of thinking about the past year, thinking about our future, just wanting to reach out and grab and hold and hug and squeeze and not wanting to let them go.
Also knowing that it's a surprise, the anticipation of seeing their reaction, it's almost like watching kids open up something on Christmas morning. And the reason you do it is because you want to see that unbridled joy and elation in their face. Knowing the reaction that I got – I got to come home for leave over Christmas, and they were both ecstatic at that moment and just tackled me at the airport – and wanting to see that again and capture it in our minds' eye for posterity, all of that goes through your mind.
And then a slight fear that my oldest was gonna tackle me off the dugout. I was like, I really don't wanna end up on SportsCenter for the wrong reason. But no, it was all of that. And at the end of the day, part of it, too, is just I can't wait to get to this moment so we're back in each other's lives.
You wanna get to that moment, you wanna have that moment because you know it's a gateway to really being together. As special as that moment is, today (Thursday) was ... today was awesome. I made breakfast for the kids and just sitting there, seeing them in their PJs and we're all talking and laughing. And you think about, 36-48 hours ago, I was still in Kuwait. And all that stuff kind of runs through your mind.
I don't know if that answers your question. I hope it does.
That more than answers it. So what happened after the reunion on the dugout?
They gave us seats, but actually very considerate of the Brewers, they gave us a room to go in to collect ourselves and just kind of relax for a little bit, away from everybody.
I'm a huge Brewers fan and I can remember I was at the first game that CC Sabathia pitched for us. I remember the game that put us into the playoffs when Ryan Braun homered to left field. I remember all these crazy games, but I couldn't tell you, even if you put a gun to my head, what happened for the first seven innings of that game. The first time I realized what was going on was when Josh Hader came on in relief in the eighth.
I kind of vaguely remember Cain hitting a home run, but even that, I really wasn't watching. I was looking at my kids and we were laughing and giggling and we were just embracing one another. It was so nice. We had a little side room that the Brewers let us borrow for a couple minutes, and then we came back up to some seats.
I want to thank, again, the USO and the Brewers. The USO is made up largely of volunteers and they support our military forces throughout the world. Everywhere I've gone, basically, in the world, there is a USO manned by volunteers and they are the most gracious individuals.
The USO Wisconsin office was absolutely instrumental in assisting and linking us up with the Brewers and even helping us think about what the options were, what we could do. They're the ones that offered us the hero of the game tickets to begin with, to even start this discussion.
And then of course, the Milwaukee Brewers, they're a business. They're a community icon, but at the end of the day they're a business, and I know that they are constantly inundated with requests to give resources, give time, give energy toward so many worthy causes. And the fact that they were able to support us, it is not lost on us. They don't have to. I would have never looked at them badly if they said, "Hey, we just can't do this." Because it's never expected.
They don't owe us anything, but they were incredibly gracious and they were absolutely nothing but professional about the whole experience. It's important that people realize that they are a business, but they have some fantastic people working for them that took personal care with this, and they took a very human side to this and made it even more of a joy than we thought it was gonna be.
It was such a special moment, obviously for you and your family, and so great that other people could share in it and feel something approaching that level of joy and love.
Here's the other great thing about this that my wife mentioned. She said the thing that we really didn't think about until now was the fact that this was captured so many different locations and has been shared so many times. We can relive this moment over and over and over. Most of the time, we relive it in our mind, but now we have this. We'd love to collect up these memories and keep them for our kids when they're a little bit older, so the videos, the stories, they're so valuable.
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