We have finally made it home. With our new Marine. The weekend – no, it wasn’t a weekend, was it? The past two days have been quite amazing.
We arrived in Beaufort, SC around 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, to a parking lot and lobby full of other parents all there for the same reason – to meet their new son.
I say it that way now because this man is not the same boy I left at the MEPS station three months ago. Ok, man. He’s still my little boy and as this story continues, you’ll see..
We head to dinner and get settled in for the night. Try as I might, little sleep was had. A knock at the door at 5 a.m. had our day start off with a bit of a downer – Goose had a high fever. However – he had come all of this way for such an important day and was so excited to see his brother, he was not detoured. We loaded the child up on advil and tylenol (alternating not at the same time) and made our way down to breakfast.
We got to Parris Island about 8:00 a.m. The morning event (The Liberty Ceremony) began at 9:00 a.m. It took a bit to find a seat, and eventually we met up with Justin’s other family. They presented a film that showed clips of what our boys had been going throughout their 13 week journey. A speech was given by someone (honestly – I don’t remember who – really didn’t care — I just wanted to see my son!) The highlight of the speech was not to let him do too much, too fast – they hadn’t been behind the wheel of a car in thirteen weeks. He gave an interesting statistic – that 75% of all Marines killed in motorcycle accidents were younger than 26 and on their first leave home. Huh. Glad Justin doesn’t have a motorcycle.
FINALLY! The bay doors opened and here they came! Took a minute or two to find him – my camera was having a hard time focusing as fast as I was scanning..and then I found that scowl.
There was another speech and information on the rest of the day. Then , they were released.
There was no way I was fighting the crowd to get to him – while the rest of the crowd fought to get down one flight of stairs – I headed down the fire escape and in through the downstairs! Found another parent we knew (he was a very tall, large man) and told him to push us through – and there he was! No, I didn’t cry – but I came close.
As the rest of the family caught up, we made our way outside through the crowd. An interesting, uneventful day was to be had – with our family and Justin’s other family all taking a tour of the base, with Private Justin M. Allen as our tour guide.
Friday November 12, 2010 was graduation day! HOLY COW! It was COLD!!!
Graduation ceremonies were to begin at 9:00 a.m. We got there at 7:45 and there were no seats!!! Luckily, some people squished together and made room for us on two rows. So, we sat and froze our tushies off while waiting to see Justin graduate.
Justin has an amazing friend, George. He arrived in town Thursday night and came to graduation. He came all this way, spent the money and time, all to watch Justin graduate and get to see him just long enough to have a quick picture made with him before he headed home. I was speechless, really. I can’t imagine- especially at 18 – any of my friends doing that. Most teens are self involved. Very touching.
After the graduation ceremonies were over..(a video is coming)..I got my kid back !
Now, on the ride back…he may be a man, a Marine..but my little boy is still in there…as he is picking on his cousin, picking on his brother. Singing along with the radio..telling dirty, sometimes inappropriate (in front of MOM) jokes… and that cell phone! Actually – TWO of them – he had mine AND Reese’s – texting a million words a minute on them both..just like old times…except for the fuzzy head…
Home sweet home…if only for a moment…