My oldest son, Joey, left today for Charlotte, NC. He leaves for Marine Corp Boot Camp on Sunday. Needless to say, I am proud and worried all at the same time.
Joey was just 3 years old when he knew that he wanted to be a Marine. We were sitting in the living-room watching TV together. Even at 3 years old he was a history buff. I remember being amazed that he wanted to watch a special on the Discovery Channel about the Titanic. So we were curled up under a blanket, eating popcorn and watching the show when the Marine Corp commercial came on.
The Marine standing tall in his dress blues and the line “the few, the proud, the Marines”. Joey turned to me and announced that when he grows up, he is going to be a Marine. I just told him that he could be anything that he wanted to be and didn’t give it much thought. I mean, come on, he was 3 years old.
Joey never waivered from that proclamation at 3 years of age. He talked about it all the time. Some members of my family tried to persuade him differently. Others supported him but would suggest other professions such as Doctor or Lawyer. I always told him that he needed to decide for himself. To keep in mind that he has to live his own life. We always talked about his choices but I tried to make him realize that it is ultimately his decision.
I remember when he was in 8th grade. He had to do a report on an American Hero. Most kids picked honorable past Presidents like Lincoln & Kennedy. Others did reports on Generals or famous inventors & scientists. Joey picked to do his report on his Great Grandfather Dan Benton. He wrote a moving story about how his Grandfather parachuted out of an airplane on D-Day in Normandy and lost his life trying to bring freedom to others. It was that moment in my parenthood that I knew I had succeeded.
Success? Yes! I have tried to teach all of my children the value of their own freedom. How and why they are free. I tried to teach them that the freedom they enjoy every day was earned by the blood, sweat, tears, and lives of so many men and women that came before them. I was able to show them by a family tree of Grandfathers that fought in American wars all the way back to the Revolutionary War. I taught them of their Great Grandfathers who helped make this a free nation, who were a part of the birth of America. I pounded into Joey’s head that so many died to make sure that he was free and not to take that lightly.
I was reminded of that success this week. Joey spent so much time watching CNN, the political debates, learning about the candidates. I asked him why he was so interested. He said, “Mom, I am turning 18 in just a couple of months. This will be the first time that I am able to vote. I want to know the candidates and what they stand for so I can make an informed decision”. What can I say…another success!
Joey also informed me that he picked his “job” for the Marine Corp. This is something that he had tossed around and wasn’t real sure what he was going to pick. We talked about it a lot. He told Vince and I that he had chosen Special Securities, specifically Presidential Guard and would most likely be assigned to the White House or Camp David. My heart skipped a beat….Not just anybody can be a Marine and not just anybody can be a Presidential Guard. I am proud of my son, very proud.
This morning I said good-bye to him. He hugged me tight and gave me a kiss. I was crying (I always cry when I say good-bye to him). He said, “Mom, the next time you see me I will be a Marine”.
I may never be rich. I may never make my complete living from farming. My goats may never become permanent champions. Our family farm may never be featured in Hobby Farm Magazine. Oprah Winfrey may never put our goat milk soaps on her list of favorite things…
But, I raised a Marine!