I have always been patriotic. I am proud of my flag. I am proud to be an American. I can’t really tell you where inside me this comes from. I don’t think it is any one particular incident that made me this way but rather a number of things.
My family was part of the birth of this nation. In my family tree you will find many American Heroes all the way back to the Revolutionary War to World War II. Many Great Grandfathers who believed in this country and it’s freedoms who were willing to lay down their lives to preserve my rights and freedoms. I have never taken that for granted. Oh, I’ll admit there are a lot of things wrong with this country but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world than right here in the United States of America.
This love of country was taught to my children. I wanted them to realize the gift they were given by so many that had went before them. I first got a glimpse of it when they were just small. I remember going to my daughter Katie’s soccer practice. She was just in 1st grade and on a team of 5 & 6 year olds. I had Mikey and Joey with me. Mikey was 6 and Joey was 11. The boys were wrestling on the ground with each other. Katie’s team was practicing as much as 5 & 6 year olds can. On the high school soccer field they were getting ready for a game to start.
Our National Anthem began to play. My daughter stopped immediately, stood tall, hand over her heart, and began singing our National Anthem. I looked at my boys. There they were standing tall, hats off of their heads, and singing with pride also. Katie’s coach, a little annoyed, asked her what she was doing and why she wasn’t running with the ball. That is when he realized and had the rest of her team stop and follow suite.
This was one of many proud moments in raising my children. Maybe it sounds trivial or stupid to some but it was then that I knew I was doing something right in raising my children. I have always remembered that moment.
As I watched my oldest son Joey walk across the parade deck at the Marine Corp Recruit Depot in Parris Island, SC, I thought of all those Great Grandfathers and Uncles in my family tree. A Grandfather who was a Paratrooper and killed in Normandy. A Uncle who also was a Marine and died at Iwo Jima at the same age as my son is now. I welled up with tears. Tears of immense pride, joy, and sadness.
Pride in his accomplishment. Pride in his love of country and wanting to serve that country. Pride in following all those Great Grandfathers who came before him. Pride in him wanting to honor them by becoming a Marine. Pride in my son being a part of protecting our freedom.
Joy in watching him achieve his life long dream of becoming a Marine. Joy in the man that he had become. Joy in knowing he is my son…my marine.
Sadness also though. Why? Because he is no longer the little boy who’s life revolves around me. He isn’t the 3 year old little boy who told my husband that he could marry me now but when he grows up, he is going to marry his mamma and Vince will have to move out. I miss that little boy. He belongs to himself, the Marine Corp, and America now.
I watched him march with pride. A little girl ask to shake his hand and thank him for serving her country. Recruits call him Sir. Retired Drill Intructors and Marines shake his hand and congratulate him on becoming a Marine. The public turns and looks at him with pride as he walks by. America is proud of my son, how can I not be?
He will always be “Joey” to me no matter how big and bad he may become. He will always be “Joey” when he is married and has children. He will always be “Joey” not matter how many candles are on his birthday cake. He is my son. I love him!
Our National Anthem and National Flag have a whole new meaning to me now. When ever I hear the Star Spangled Banner and see our national flag flying, I will think of my son.
I’ll end this post in the words of President Ronald Regan…
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering
if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t
have that problem.”