Lansing The bright yellow ribbon that hung on a large tree in front of Carol Murray's house caught the attention of many motorists along Kansas Highway 7.
For many driving by, the yellow ribbon at 509 S. First St. became a symbol of comfort and pride as they could relate to what a burden it is to have a loved one gone.
Neighbors and other Lansing residents would stop by, Murray said, asking how she made the ribbon and about which family member was fighting the war that has affected so many families in this community.
But Murray's yellow ribbon is down now. Lt. Col. Pat Cook has returned safely from a 15-month deployment to Afghanistan.
"There were a lot of people who could identify and hoped that our loved one came back safe," Murray said.
Murray is Cook's mother-in-law. During his time overseas, Cook served as an executive officer at a detention camp. The most difficult part of his deployment was leaving behind his family - his wife, Wendy, who was pregnant at the time with their second son, and their son Chase, 8.
"It was hard," Cook said, but he added that his wife "definitely had the hardest job."
The couple would speak by telephone daily. Advances in technology made the distance a bit easier to handle. Cook got to see the birth of his now 10-month-old son, Casey, by having a webcam set up in the hospital room.
Cook did return home briefly in June and got to see his newborn son. The reunion was full of tears and joy, but everyone knew the tough period wasn't over yet.
Wendy eventually left the family's home in Florida and returned to Lansing to be with her parents, where she could receive the support and comfort that was missing when she was alone.
"It was very difficult, extremely difficult and depressing at times," said Wendy, who is a counselor at MacArthur Elementary School at Fort Leavenworth. "You just had to take things day by day and mark the days off on the calendar."
This was the second tour of duty for Cook, who served in 1990 during the Gulf War. Cook said he doesn't know yet if he will have to return to Afghanistan before the war is over. Until then, he will be assigned to a job training officers at Fort Leavenworth.
The Cooks are both 1985 graduates of Lansing High School. They've recently moved to Piper. They are planning a party to celebrate Cook's return and are looking forward to a possible family vacation in the summer.
As for the yellow ribbon, it may have been taken down from the tree, but no one in the family will ever forget it as their symbol of peace and pride for the sacrifice their family has made to protect the American way of life.