He was an Army brat before he was a Marine. When the family moved into military housing, he walked right into the wrong house (two doors down) that first week. Luckily, military moms are used to that happening- after all, every house looks pretty much the same, so it is a common experience to have a mixed up little one show up at your door. Knocking on a few doors with the kid in tow quickly solves the problem. Often it ends up being the beginning of friendships, for kids and moms both.
My son made a new friend that day. Many play days followed. The one that stands out is the time the two boys thought it would be fun to throw “grenades” at each other- the grenades were actually shells from the North Carolina coast. My son took one to the head, and came walking home with blood flowing profusely down his face, looking like the living dead. He wasn’t even crying. Nearly scared me to death! Turned out it was a minor cut, but it left a scar- hidden by his hair until he got that Marine haircut.
When he started school, he got on the bus in the same military housing neighborhood. The bus was filled in two stops on our street. He was often the new kid at school- he attended 13 different schools by the time he graduated from high school, in four different states and three different countries. This might sound unusual for most kids, but it can be ordinary for an Army brat.
His favorite clothes were his junior BDU’s (battle dress uniform) and Army flight suit. Dressed in his camouflage, armed with his super-soaker, he went forth declaring, “This is my neighborhood and I have to defend it.” He started karate lessons. He stuck with it and earned a black belt. He could break cement blocks with his bare hands. He was part of a fighting team called Fire and Ice- he was the Fire.
The grenade incident was replayed when we lived in Panama. This time the grenades were mangoes, fallen from the trees in the neighborhood, and hoarded by opposing teams of boys. It turned out my son is allergic- extremely- to the sap on the mangoes. He spent some miserable days with a rash, trying to avoid the sun in tropical Panama. It caused him to miss field day, his favorite day at every school, that year.
In his freshman year of high school, he joined ROTC. Unfortunately, a move ended that part of his high school experience. But in a few years, approaching graduation, he signed up, delayed enlistment, for the real thing- the United States Marine Corps. Between his graduation and reporting to basic training came September 11, 2001.
As a Marine, he has been stationed in California, South Carolina, Okinawa, and aboard ship. He served in Iraq.
I am a proud Marine Mom. Semper fi. Happy Marine Corps birthday this November, and I was thinking of you this Veteran’s Day, son.
Thinking of Veteran’s Day, remember all who serve and defend the USA. Thank them whenever you see them.