By Wyatt Squires
Tecumseh senior Josh McKinley and freshman Jared McKinley took the field on Friday night sharing more than a drive to battle against the North Knox Warriors.
They both missed their brother and Tecumseh alumni Jeremy McKinley. Josh stood with his brother on the field for the last time in the team's 2016 season before Jeremy graduated and joined the military.
Since then, Jeremy has been stationed in Fort Bragg with the Army's 82nd Airborne division working to be the country's first responders in the air. He missed his brother's junior year and everything else his family did in the year and a half since he's been gone.
But on Friday night, the announcer on the field called out Josh and Jared's names before the National Anthem was played. Confused, the stepped out from the line of their teammates.
Then, in the end zone, they saw their brother for the first time in over a year. They ran to the end zone, dropping their helmets on the way, and joined together in a hug of brothers.
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They stood arm and arm throughout the National Anthem as the community joined together in pride for their country, their community and their neighbor and son.
Jeremy said he got the opportunity thanks to a Labor Day break and a chain of command that allowed him an extra day to come see his brothers take the field. He said he missed out last year and wanted to make sure he didn't miss out on seeing his brothers on the field this season.
"It's Josh's senior year," he said. "I wanted to make it special for him."
Josh and Jared said they were completely surprised by their brother and couldn't contain their emotions from the excitement of being able to see him again.
"It was amazing," Josh said. "I wish I had one more year with him in any sport."
"I love hime so much and I missed him for so long," Jared said. "I was just wishing I could play so he could see me."
Josh and Jared said they encourage others who are missing their family members to always tell them you love and support them and to remember that you'll see them again.
"I would tell them that you will see them again one day," Josh said. "No matter what happens, you will see them again."
"Talk to them as much as you can, love them," Jared said. "Let them know you are there for them and know that they are there for you."
Jeremy said anyone can go to college and advance careers after high school, but it takes a special person with heart and dedication to join the military. He said it can be difficult to deal with being away from family, but he has gotten an opportunity of a life time meeting people from all over the world.
"I get to jump out of airplanes," he said. "Who gets to do that?"