I am not a parent yet at this point of my life. And, I’ve never quite understood the pride parents have when their children use the potty for the first time, draw a picture of something that only they can decipher or score 2 points in a basketball game. But, I recently felt pride I can only equate to that of a proud parent.
My brother Caleb is six years younger than I am and he’s hit a few forks in the road on his journey to figure out what he should do for a career. But, he recently joined the Army. I, along with my husband, my mother and my grandma were lucky enough to be able to travel to Georgia to witness his graduation from basic training.
On the first day, my mother had the privilege of placing his infantry cord on his uniform during the “Turning Blue” ceremony at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. This was the first time we had seen Caleb in nearly four months and as you can imagine, it was quite emotional.
Prior to this ceremony, all the families there were treated to an hour presentation by one of the top officers at the base. He showed us via a PPT presentation what intense training our boys (it is infantry) had been through. There were pictures of drill sergeants yelling in faces of young men doing push-ups. There were vomiting soldiers just exiting a gas chamber. There were men smiling boyish smiles as a grenade was blowing up in the distance. There was pain. There was pride. There was my brother… no longer the little boy tromping mud through the living room, but instead there was a man… ready to risk his life to fight terrorists who threaten our freedoms.
Now, “fight terrorists” and “freedoms” are not words I would have used with a straight face prior to this trip to Fort Benning. A long-standing Democrat and peace-lover, this trip opened my eyes to the sacrifices the troops make. While I may not agree with every decision the government and/or the military make, I do agree with my brother’s goal to serve and eventually deploy to Afghanistan and do all he can do to prevent future 9/11 attacks on U.S. soil as well as protect the rest of the world from this violence.
A reminder: this is not a political post, but a prideful post. On graduation day, hundreds of friends and family members gathered to see Alpha Co. 2-58 march amid the purple, green and yellow smoke grenades (who knew the Army was artsy). We heard a speech about what it means to serve as an infantryman. And, we saw my brother march with his brothers in their dress blues and berets.
I flew an American flag that day. I choked back tears (as I’m doing as I write this). I hugged my brother as the rain started to pick up in Georgia.
Caleb is about 30 pounds of muscle bigger. He’s still the same sweet, funny and kind person he has always been. But, he’s more mature. He’s respectful. He’s focused. He has a career. And, eventually he will enter harm’s way. But, I know he’ll be fine. He’ll be better than fine. Because, he is strong – Army strong. And, I am as proud of this kid as I could be of my own.
Support the troops. Each and every one of them is somebody’s kid:) Hoo-ah (an Army saying)!