Orland Park soldier returns home on the Fourth

July 4, 2012 (ORLAND PARK, Ill.)

He was given a rousing, star-spangled welcome home from family and friends. Patriotic pride was everywhere in stark contrast to Hudson's last year in Afghanistan.

"You get a greater appreciation for the small things," said Hudson. "I don't care about money or nothing like that. I'm just happy."

Happy to be home in southwest suburban Orland Park with family and friends.

"The Afghanis have it worse than we do," said Hudson. "I couldn't picture being in their shoes my whole life... I mean, they live that every day. We were just there for a year."

Hudson says he has matured after working as a gunner on an armored vehicle and security at the base's main gate. He said he grew close to three Afghani translators.

"Going into it, I was like - I don't trust any of them - but I found a lot of respect for a lot of people," said Hudson. "It was good, getting to realize that they are not all bad."

The significance of this day is not lost on Hudson's parents either. It's not just the fireworks. It's the people, and those who serve.

"You can't thank them enough - what they've done for us and my son, and there's many other sons and daughters out there," said Hudson's father, Michael Hudson, Sr. "God is watching over them, and it's a blessing what they do for us."

"It's a great day, but you have to remember the people for this day," said Anna Hudson, the soldier's stepmother.

Hudson is home for two weeks and then headed to Germany, where he will spend the next two years. As he, once again leaves the country, there is a message for the rest of us.

"Enjoy life, it's precious," said Hudson. "A lot of people have it worse than you."

A reminder to all as we reflect on our nation's history.

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