LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Patriotism is in no short supply on the Fourth of July.
It only seemed fitting that more than 60 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing were able to return home that day.
"You flew so high you went past the sky and never came back until the fourth of July," Shleea Johnson said in a card to her brother.
He'd been deployed for five months.
Dozens of families and friends gathered inside the hangar at the Louisville Air National Guard base to welcome their loved ones home.
"My husband was so excited," Margaret Freeman said. "He told them, 'I've got to get out of this hospital so I can go meet my grandson.'"
Freeman's husband John fought in Vietnam. His military service inspired her grandson Spencer to join the force.
"They bonded, like that was his pal," Freeman said.
For the Freeman's, the Fourth of July is a day about family. This year it was the definition of bitter sweet.
Freeman's husband didn't make it out of the hospital.
"He died last night a little after 7," Freeman said. "It was a hard decision to let Spencer know because he was on his way home and we didn't want to mess up his homecoming."
However, looking around at those signs, the smiles, and the hugs -- they know they didn't mess up the homecoming.
"You know he's here right," a family member said to Spencer Freeman. "He's here with us. I love you baby."
More than 100 members from the wing are still deployed worldwide.