02 September 2013

An American Soldier

My son Dylan

When I grew up, I thought I wanted to be a soldier.  I was about eighteen, throwing around the idea of college, when suddenly I saw a sign. " Join the Army", "Be All You Can Be", "See The World".  And those were just a few of the catchy slogans they were throwing around to entice a generation where the draft was no longer in place.

I actually saw a recruiter and he told me that we would be the perfect fit.  I thought, well, you're cute enough but I already have a boyfriend  yeah, the army could make me into all that I can be and I could get my education right there as well.  Besides, they already thought we'd be a perfect fit.   Good idea!

My new friend in uniform, (I've always been a succor) told me that I could choose from any occupation I wanted in the Army.  I went down the very long list and chose, Photography.  I could be a foreign corespondent, or a photographer and put my love for writing AND photography both into play.  I practically had my future tied up with a big red bow, and I was a happy camper, feeling very proud of myself, when it happened.

I revealed my exciting new plans to my boyfriend, who was in South Africa serving his time in their Army for the next two years.  (Another story entirely.)  He quickly burst my bubble by telling me that the Army and I would not be good for each other.  I was not good at taking orders. (Me?)  I was not good at sharing a bathroom, having people too close in my space, getting up early, having my food touch, being yelled at  or not getting my way.  I was too peace loving and a semi-quasi-boho-hippie to boot.  Well, you're just being rude looking at the negatives, I said.  They told me I could travel the world and study photography!  Plus I'll get to go to boot camp and that's like three months free at the gym!  "The Army will own you", said he bluntly from personal experience.  Believe me, you would die trying.  Well, needless to say, he had some good points and after throwing around the idea a few more times, I seceded that the Army was not the place for me and went on to accomplish other things in a civilian world.  To this day though,  every time I pay to work out at the gym I think fondly back on my memories of getting it for free.

Last week had us traveling from Southern California to  Columbus, Georgia, for an event that had me in tears from beginning to end. This momma literally cried for 4 days.  Why?  Because my son officially became an American Soldier, and I"m a huge sap.  Like, a Hallmark sap!  Dylan has spent the past 4 months in Boot Camp, being drilled, grilled, smoked, worked, broken and built up again.  He learned unwavering discipline, impulse control and unbending comradiere for his brothers in Arms.  He crawled through mud, learned to shoot weapons and threw grenades (on his birthday!)  He ate MRE's (meals ready to eat), not your momma's cooking.  He has accomplished CPR and First Aid; how to react to conbat, how to use a map and if I tell you anything else, I'll have to kill ya.
He is... An American Soldier.

Some of you may remember this post, Be All You Can Be, about Dylan, from back before he left for Boot Camp.  Dylan isn't just any kid.  Because of his circumstances,  he's had to work twice as hard at all he has accomplished to turn into the man he is today.  It has been an uphill battle.  All of us have braved trials in life, and the trial of this kid, of MY kid,  was the biggest trial of my life.  Our trial has literally been a Heart Cry.  And the best thing that God ever did for me.  Except maybe turn my head all those years ago when I though I wanted to be in the Army.

After months of his being away, we first saw our soldier as he marched up the hill at FT Benning.  I was on the edge of my seat but knew it would not be cool appropriate to run over the parade grounds and through the woods to catch him in a huge momma bear hug.  Hey!  Maybe while he was gone I learned some impulse control too.  Not.

The Soldier's Creed
I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.  I serve the people of the United States
and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient
in my warrior tasks and drills.  I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies
of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

I was a child of the 60's.  Peace, Love and Swell Things.  My family wasn't military.  I had no ever- loving idea how important the military was in keeping me and my country safe.  Regardless of all the politics and different views on war,  I now know how important our military is.  And as proud as I feel that my son is now one of them, I am scared to death of the implications.  Not my son. Isn't that the war cry of every parent of a Soldier?   We are now, and have always been a nation whom everyone looks to, to police the world.  We are the strongest, bravest, most free country because of our military men and women.  I found out that I had, and still have, a lot to learn.  But, that free gym part was true.  They do get you in the best shape of your life!

"I want to go mom.  I want to go fight for the country that's been so good to me." And you know what?  The Army suits him.  He thrives on discipline and regiment and order.  He's good at being part of a team.  He could care less if people yell at him.  He survived his teen years with me, didn't he?

I received the honor of pinning my son's blue Infantry cord onto his new dress blues.  This is called, "The Turning Blue Ceremony".  They say that God loved the Infantry so much, he made the sky blue and that is why the infantry cord these men earn is blue.

The second day was the graduation ceremony.  It consisted of squad demonstrations, trooping of the line, speakers explaining what our sons have been doing, etc.  They had me at The Star Spangled Banner, and then went on to sing others.

From Concord Bridge to An The appenedhe Ridge,
Through swaps and mountains and sand,
They fight and die where brave men lie,
Against all tyrants they stand.

These men are strong and the land they love,
They fought hard through history.
Because of them in years to come,
All children will be free.

You can hear it in the heat of the jungle,
You can hear it across the sea.
It calls to every freedom loving man,
The cry of the U.S. INFANTRY!
Follow Me, Follow Me, Follow Me.
"The Infantry Song"

Now he's a soldier.  It could have gone any way.  One never knows when you hold your baby in your arms what will become of him.  My heart is in a whirl.   We've come such a very long way, to this very proud day.  He did what I couldn't.  He made it through boot camp and is on his way in a country that is now constantly at war.  He's an American Soldier, and I'm sure glad he's on our side.

Sadly, we hold  them for only a short time.  As my son said,  "Mom, it's time, it just feels right."  In less than 7 days he leaves us for the hard earned duty of Airborne School in yet again, another state.   For the next couple of months he will be learning to jump out of airplanes and helicopters into enemy territory.  He will then be deployed.  I know he will be brave, he will be true.  You will always know that he is out there with thousands of others, whom are ready to protect you and me.

Please pray for our troops, And




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