Melissa wrote a while back about Stephen’s graduation and all of the things that God just dropped in our lap to make it happen that I could attend. Well, I am back from the graduation service and I must tell you that this trip was more of a blessing that we ever thought or imagined it might be before I went. Today I am going to write about Stephen, I will tell you later about the people I met that blessed me and the old friends I got to visit after too long of a time away from each other.
Stephen stands straight and tall and he has a swagger to him that I have only seen on occasion in the first 17 years of his life. It was clear that he was very proud of what he had accomplished during boot camp. He showed me the tower he’d rappelled down, the grenade training field, the marching trails and the rest of the sites where he’d been tested and had passed. Those of us that know him had no doubt that he would do well and pass the challenges he would face and now that he has done them and passed them I think he is now a young man that knows he will be able to take on any and all future challenges and overcome them. Hmm, sounds like the reason for boot camp.
He had to wear standard issue Army glasses throughout boot camp and he looked like a skinny, young, Mr. Magoo. I really wanted to get a picture of him in the glasses but he did not want that and, since he can now kill sixteen different ways with his thumbs, I relented. It also seemed to be disrespectful to a young man so deserving of respect.
We spent most of Thursday and Friday together. Thursday we went over every nook and cranny of the base as he was still not allowed to leave. He did get to have some Burger King a couple of times and that was a pure reward to him. Friday he graduated and for the first time in 9 weeks he was allowed to leave
Stephen already has a host of stories he loves to tell about his life in the Army. He has stories about his new friends. No, he has stories about his comrades in arms, men and women to whom he is willing to trust his life to. He may be a tad cynical about some of them, but he also knows the common experiences they share have bonded them and they are all willing to give all for their country.
I watched 1200 of these young men and women graduate on Friday. We hear so much about the “youth of today” and how they are spoiled and soft. That may be true for some of them the same it has always been true for some of them. I will remind you that prior to the United States entry into World War II it was the opinion of the German officers that we were a soft nation and would be unable to meet their forces as equals. We all know how that turned out for them.
We should all be encouraged by the people that serve our nation’s armed forces. They are well trained, well intentioned and capable. They care about each other and they care about our nation and her safety. To paraphrase George Orwell, we can all sleep peacefully tonight because these rough men and women stand ready to do violence on our behalf. I am very proud to say that my son is one of these men.