I'll start with the youngest.
My oldest child has always been a kind-hearted, fun-loving child. His teachers loved him in school, the neighbors loved him growing up, and my friends repeatedly said he was the nicest child they'd ever seen. He was always very sweet and mild-mannered. So when he decided to drop out of college to join the military, I was stunned, and I hoped it was 'just talk' because the military, while they have my full respect, can be a very dangerous place. But he joined, and when he did, he went all out and signed up for Infantry, which would put him front and center in the middle of danger.
When he joined I was overcome with emotion that sometimes just enveloped me out of the blue. For me, his safety and well-being will always be paramount, so knowing he'd thrown himself into the unknown was very hard to adapt to as his mom.
When he graduated from Boot Camp, nothing short of the extraordinary happened...
All of his things were on the bus for where he was supposed to go. The ceremony went off without a hitch. It was very nice, but parents/loved ones were worried because they didn't know where their soldiers were being sent, or what their destination(s) would entail. At the very last second (literally), one of the men in charge came up and told my son to move his things off of the transport bus they were on, and move them to the bus headed for Air Borne, where he would now go to train to be a Paratrooper. He was more than thrilled because that's where he wanted to be.
|Here he is posing with his Drill Sergeant at the Boot Camp Graduation Ceremony|
Why that particular moment turned out to be so wonderful to me, is because it then led to him being selected (after he successfully completed his training) as one of the Old Guard members in DC. It is a job to be revered, and a hard one for sure because they are constantly on-call to pick up the bodies and take part in the official ceremonies for their fellow comrades who have fallen (which is a highly respected job, but can never, never can be considered a 'good' job). But from a mother's perspective, it delayed him being sent overseas, and for that, I will always consider his last minute bus change nothing short of a miracle.
|This picture is very profound to me. My son is front, right.|
Here he is below earning his Expert Infantry Badge (EIB).
|Earning his EIB (my son is in the front of this picture)|
He has since transferred out of Old Guard and into another area where he is learning and excelling at what he does. To our country and to us he is a hero. But even more than that, to us he is family.
He is the big brother whose two younger brothers are always ecstatic to see him.
|Yeah, his not-so-little brother jumped in his arms too. Hilarious group of guys I've got, let me tell you, but in truth we all feel happy like that when we get to see him.|
He is the big brother who tries to soothe his sister who breaks down every time she has to leave him.
|She's getting better as she gets older, but she still takes it really hard when it's time to part.|
He is the considerate and loving husband who wears the pink tie his wife selected for him because it perfectly matches her dress (we're at their place in the photo below, headed out to get professional pictures taken).
|Yes, he did wear it, and yes it did match perfectly. My son with his wonderful wife!|
He is the son who loves his mama.
|This is me, him, and his little bro on stilts in the background. I couldn't be more proud of the child he was or the man he has become.|
And he is also a young man who makes us even more proud with his decision to have become a soldier (love you C!).
Now on to my husband... This write-up will be much shorter, but only because I have no pictures to add. My husband is a bona fide veteran who served in the military, including his active duty in the Middle East during the Gulf War. He doesn't talk about it much, and we can't put pictures up because they were all taken during the 'film era' and we don't have them scanned on the computer (as some of you know, my scanner/fax/printer is unplugged while my computer is temporarily in our youngest son's room). But he has our respect and admiration too, for willingly taking on such a huge responsibility and seeing it through until the end. We're lucky because he came home. Not everyone who served with him was so lucky.
|My two soldiers hamming it up for the camera.|
Serving our country is no small thing, and I hope you will join me today, & every day, in honoring all of the men and women who are active, have served, or have lost their lives while serving in the United States Military.
Happy Veteran's Day.