FORT POLK, La. — Lately, I’ve found myself in a retrospective state — perhaps because a new year has dawned or, maybe, because Fort Polk’s 80th anniversary (Jan. 14) is around the corner. Regardless of the cause, I’ve dedicated countless hours reviewing our (my and my husband’s) choice to move back to Leesville 18 months ago.Once anyone hears that we elected, largely unprompted, to move back to the area, we are riddled with questions as to why. The quick answer has been that we have a lot of kids (four children ranging from 4 months to 6 years old) and we have a lot of support in this area, as much of our military Family retired here. But, over the last few weeks, I’ve delved more deeply into not only why we moved here, but why this area seems to work so well for our Family.Finding the answer to the latter question is what took the most time. We’ve lived in several areas over the last 10 years, and each place has had its own similarities to Fort Polk; yet, not a single place has felt like home. What, then, separated Fort Polk from everywhere else?My initial thought was that our sense of home here stems from the fact that our Family began here. I met my husband, Gregory, 72 hours after arriving to Fort Polk as a fresh private. As mushy as it may sound, we immediately fell in love and found ourselves at the Main Post Chapel’s altar six short months after meeting. Yes, it was a rash decision, but we’ve cultivated a happy and strong marriage, and we regret nothing.I also became a mother here, giving birth to my first child at the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital (a tremendously wonderful experience due to the kind staff and my beautiful baby). In fact, I was lucky enough to give birth a second time at BJACH; Jack Owen Miles Graham was born Aug. 21, a few days prior to Hurricane Laura. Despite the impending storm, my birthing experience was phenomenal and only more special as I can say I had my first and last babies here.But, I reasoned that Gregory and I also had roots in other areas: He is from a small town in Alaska, and I am from California. Neither of us, however, felt any pull to return to our respective home states. We ultimately determined that Fort Polk actually has aspects from each of our home towns, helping us to feel more comfortable in the area. Wasilla, Alaska, where Gregory was raised, has a thick tree line and the promise of good fishing, hunting and other various backyard adventures that is familiar to the area here. But, Gregory will be the first to point out that Louisiana has a saddening lack of mountainous views, which is no surprise to anyone reading this, but it remains the only major bummer in my husband’s humble opinion.I’m from the Los Angeles area and, although I’d never begin to tell you how much Leesville reminds me of city life, it does maintain a similar level of diversity — unparalleled in any other small town I’ve ever visited or resided.During my service years at Fort Polk (2009-2014), I met Soldiers from the same city in Ethiopia where my mother was raised; and I trained with some of the most intelligent, highly educated people that I’ve ever met. I worked with people from all over the country, representing the plethora of sub-cultures embedded and paramount to our American identity.Unlike California, which I would describe less like a melting pot and more like a well-stocked, highly organized pantry, Fort Polk not only maintained a varied and professional population, but it embraced it — we always came together for the mission and, despite any differences, we all had a passion for the country and our military service. Fort Polk, it seemed, was the perfect blend of our favorite aspects from our former homes.Next I pondered the joy my children have in being here. I remember our second day back in Leesville, my son Levi (at the time only 2) fully embraced the outdoorsy, country lifestyle — he learned he could get away with peeing on trees. Sorry if that is too much information, but it was a memorable moment as it greatly eased the pains of potty training him.At the same time, Lucine (my eldest) was enjoying the hot Louisiana summer, loving the daily dose of water games and popsicles. It seemed as though our kids felt more at home here than anywhere else.I eventually realized that our appreciation of Fort Polk encompassed all of those things — buttressed by the Army culture on base. Nowhere else has had such an impression on our Family: We couldn’t think of better place to plant our roots.