Though my family is full of Navy people, I was not aware of this tradition. It’s pretty awesome:
It’s been three months since the dock landing ship left home for Central America, and all of the usual fanfare is waiting to greet its crew: crowds of cheering families, toddlers dressed in sailor suits, and the lucky, excited woman who’s been chosen to take part in a time-honored Navy tradition, the first homecoming kiss.
In this case, that woman is 22-year-old Citlalic Snell. She’s a sailor herself, assigned to destroyer Bainbridge, but today she’s in civilian clothes – jeans, boots and a stylish leather jacket. Watching pierside as the Oak Hill pulls into port, she absent-mindedly twists the small diamond ring that’s on her left hand.
As it starts to drizzle, the gangplank is finally lowered. A handful of top officers are first off the ship, and then comes a young woman in dress blues, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta.
Snell cracks a wide smile.
“That’s her,” she says.
When Gaeta spots her, she smiles too. They embrace. With all eyes watching, they keep the kiss short, and the crowd cheers.
And here’s the kiss:
At the sight of that picture, wingnut heads explode and normal people who know what it’s like to be away from a loved one for a long time feel a kinship with them.
And lest any of the wingnuts think this was done for “political purposes,” they weren’t chosen — they won a raffle!