Seven Years Later, Another Graduation

January 22, 2017

Graduation day, 20 January 2017, Kilo Company and Oscar Company. This is, IMHO, the greatest graduation ceremony I have ever witnessed. And I’ve seen it twice.

Every time I think about it, I get something in my eyes. Strange.

Graduation takes place on Peatross Parade Deck, one of the largest parade decks I’ve ever seen. Graduation begins with the Parris Island Marine Corps band entering. Then, the Parade Adjunct marks the right flank of the formation and the two graduating companies enter the deck, marching in unison, platoon flags waving in the breeze. It is an incredible sight.

usmc-graduation_paradedeck

I hope that this panorama of the parade deck, with 599 men and women that are the United States Marine Corps newest members, helps you see just how large the parade deck is.

It was during the Commanding Officers Remarks that something got in my eyes. He’s talking about honor, courage, and commitment. Then he says, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine,” and asks for all Marines in attendance to stand and be recognized. Up goes Number One Son. I’m working on getting “dust” out of my eyes.

I had to laugh to myself after thinking about this. Every other graduation ceremony you might attend wants to honor all veterans in attendance. Not here. They only want to honor Marines. Sorry, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Army veterans.

After the Remarks, the Marines pass in review, which is another spectacular sight.

Then, they retire the guidons, present awards to the high shooters and high scorers in combined personal fitness, the band plays the Marines’ Hymn, and then there is the Final Dismissal.

Now, another rush to greet the new Marines, take more photos, and meet some of friends he’s made during the 13 weeks of boot camp.

usmc-graduationday-newmarine

 Number One Son with his cousin, his new brother.

After congratulating him, it was time to head back north. But first, a special stop. What Number One Son called “a tradition.”

usmc-wendys

To all, this looks like just another Wendy’s. To my family, this is the Wendy’s where we stopped with Number One Son, after his graduation and he had his first civilian meal in 13 weeks. It’s at Highway 17 and I-95 in Jasper, SC. To quote my blog post from 2010:

On the way home, we stopped at Wendy’s for lunch, with our Marine. What did he eat?

  • A Triple Baconator, small fry, and a Mr. Pibb.
  • Sweet and Spicy Asian Boneless Wings, small fry, and a lemonade.
  • Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty

Quite an amazing sight.

This time, it was just a Double Baconator, medium fry, and a soda.

My mother now has all of her grandchildren in uniform: two Marines, a soldier, and a (auxiliary) policeman. I think that is simply amazing and I am extremely proud of them all. Although, as I said back in 2010, “proud” is a word that doesn’t seem to appropriately describe how I feel about them.

I cannot say that I will not return to MCRD Parris Island for a third visit. Of course, it will be with Number One Son in tow. And, hopefully, with Number Two Son. Our family now has a proud tradition of men in uniform after a generation without any.

By the way, graduation ceremonies at MCRD Parris Island are open to the public. If you ever find yourself in the area, please take the time to witness a graduation ceremony. Here are all of the dates for 2017. It will only take you a few hours of your time (depending on whether you also decide to see some of the sights on the base). As I keep telling you, it is truly the best graduation ceremony you will ever witness. Honest.

Semper Fi!

Link:

Number One Son: Marine


2013 – A Year Unlike Any Other

December 31, 2013

As I look through my feeds, I see that many people take the time to do a postmortem of the year. 2013 was, for the lack of a better word, “fascinating.”

January means Lotusphere Connect and I was able to attend. But it was not the Connect that I wanted to experience, as we lost a friend, Kenneth Kjærbye. Not a day goes by where I do not think of Kenneth; my browser opens to a news article of the accident. Also, during the Ohio motorcycle riding season, a small stuffed monkey travels with me, another reminder of him. Together, the monkey and I rode 11,000 miles this year. We rode to St. Louis for IamLUG, we rode around Lake Erie, we rode to Harrisburg/Hershey/Thurmont, MD, we rode some spectacular roads in southern Ohio. I am very grateful the monkey has enjoyed some of the best riding and sights I could offer this year.

Through all of it, though, I am extremely grateful to many of you. I only hope that I was able to properly convey my appreciation to you through a very difficult time. Many of you, I will never be able to properly repay the support, the kind words, the shoulders upon which I cried. I think back to those days and I remember the people that stepped up and made me feel whole again, the reactions of certain individuals, the amazing family (yes, family) of which I am eternally grateful to be a member.

And, months later, after I successfully completed an Advanced Motorcycle Course, I was found myself face to face with one of the instructors of my basic motorcycle training course. She told me of a message she received concerning the accident, how I responded, and that the author said that she was instrumental in my emergency training. Together, we shared a “moment.” The effects of that day in January touched many people.

January “ended” with the Closing General Session at Connect. It was at this point where, if you had been paying attention, many of the people who made the yearly trek to Orlando would cease to do so. So, on my list of places to visit, Portland, OR, moved into the Top 5.

Which brings me to February. There was a day in February, which I cannot yet publicly share, that moved my year into the “win” category. However, should anyone care to ask me “Have you ever met a famous person?” I believe that I have an excellent answer to that question. Thank you, Number One Son, for simply doing your duty and allowing me to tag along.

March opened with Number One Son moving from the east coast to the west coast. Specifically, Twentynine Palms. He wasn’t there long before he headed overseas for a few months. On the way back from that mission, he stopped in Ireland. Damn kid was able to enjoy a proper Guinness before his old man. Now, he’s ramping up for deployment, and again, it’s overseas.

March was also the month where I spent some time in rural Maryland with someone in the Frederick area. Yes, I was fortunate to hang out with The Turtle, who not only showed me a very good brewpub, but also pointed the way to some of the better sights in the area. Spending time with him has always been a highlight and he did not disappoint. No, there were no wabbits this time, I have seen them in the past. Because of him, I look forward to the county fair season in Ohio, so I can check out Flemish Giant rabbits. Magnificent wabbits, they are.

April – Advanced Motorcycle Course (see above). This course, you ride your own bike. I have never been so tired after riding as I was after this eight hour session of maneuvering a 650 pound bike through low speed drills. My legs and my wrists ached afterwards. However, I learned a great deal about myself and my bike.

Fast forward to 3 July when Number Two Son left for Army basic training. I won’t get to see him until late November. Remember letters? Yes, if you want to communicate with your child, you have to set pen to paper, affix a stamp, and mail your letter. Or, in my case, type it, print it, and mail it. Letter writing, I found, was a welcome task. It is fun, extremely personal, and, with today’s technology, the ability to embed pictures into text is wonderful. He later told me that while he received a lot of mail, it was the ones from me that he looked forward to receiving. Like I said, I loved writing him letters. Some required more than one stamp.  🙂 I never sent him a package. Those are opened in front of the squad and, if there was food in it, you had to eat it in five minutes. In front of the squad. There was no “enjoying” a candy bar/cookies/whatever. There was also no food allowed in the squad bay. So, you received something, now . . . EAT IT.

August is the month in which, after 12 years, I left independent consulting for the corporate world. Sherwin-Williams presented a full-time opportunity I could not let slip by me. The other deciding factor was to continue to work with some excellent people. The technology was great, but people with whom I would work made that work all the more enjoyable. I am working on projects that will fundamentally change the way in which every person at Sherwin works and interacts with others, internally and externally. Heady times and I am very happy to have been invited to ride along.

August was also the month where I was again tested on two wheels. From that little mishap, I decided that 2014 would be year where I take some Red Cross First Aid classes. I also added a first aid kit to the saddle bags. And I was recognized for my actions. I suppose that if you ride 11-12,000 miles a year on two wheels, you will be confronted with more than your share of . . . things. Best to be prepared as well as you can for those times. 2014 means that I will take the last Ohio motorcycle course, a two day Experienced Rider class.

November’s highlight was seeing Number Two Son after nearly five months. He had graduated from basic training, Advanced Infantry Training, and his MOS school (he’s a member of the Military Police). I traveled to Fort Leonard Wood, MO, for Family Day and Graduation. I do not believe that there is any graduation better than a military graduation. And there are no better looking graduates than graduates in uniform. Of course, I could be prejudice.

In December, I took Number Two Son to see one of our favorite bands, Halestorm. Last year, they toured with, among other bands, New Medicine. We both loved that show and I bought the (autographed) CD from New Medicine. This year, Halestorm toured with Stars in Stereo, and we were again sold. Halestorm kicks ass, but they also bring “new” bands along for the ride and for that we love them even more. There is nothing better than experiencing a live rock show and Halestorm is one of the best.

I suppose that I could mention the technological milestones that I reached in 2013, the products I installed/configured, the certifications I achieved. But those aren’t anywhere as important to me as the people, places, and things that I have experienced. The tech will be there tomorrow (or not, who cares?). The people you meet, the people you care about, the people that care about you, are the most important part of one’s life. And they make your life richer for knowing them.

Heck of a year, by any measure.


Chris Marvin: For today’s veterans, service isn’t over when the uniform is put away

November 11, 2013

I fought in Afghanistan. When people learn of my military service, I get a variety of comments — none more common than “Thank you for your service.” My response sometimes surprises people. I look them in the eye and say, “You’re welcome.”

. . . When I began to respond with “You’re welcome,” I was concerned that it shocked people. I wondered if I was being too flippant or prideful. Then I realized that their reaction said something about what “Thank you for your service” now means in American culture. The phrase has become a reflex for civilians who don’t know what else to say. Most people today play a minimal role in national defense beyond expressing gratitude to those who have served on their behalf.

More >

When he first came home, after graduating from the University of Parris Island, you could see that “Thank you for your service” resulted in discomfort for Number One Son. But now, after nearly four years of service, he is used to that phrase and responds to the individual thanking him.

Number Two Son, who hasn’t been off base in nearly 5 months, will soon go through the same thing. However, with his brother coaching him, I am sure that he will not have the same discomfort and will be better prepared for your greetings and thanks.

I am extremely proud of my two sons, just ask me sometime. 🙂

Happy Veterans Day.

Thanks for the link, Matt.