Sitting in a sea of parents at the Marine Corps graduating ceremonies, I was completely at a loss for words. These moms and dads, brothers and sisters, girlfriends, brothers and cousins had all come to support one of the 451 graduates that day. But what they were really doing, was putting their son, their brother, their loved one in front of me.
That boy of theirs out on the tarmac was willing to take a bullet for me. For my children. To serve tirelessly and work endlessly protecting my family from the front lines of harm. Marines are all combatants— which means that any Marine can be called to the front lines to fight, any Marine can be called into battle. And here these parents and loved ones were, saying, in effect,
“Here America…we give you our best. The ones we love most. The children we hold dearest. That you may live in peace and safety we knowingly risk our loved ones…”
And that, my dear friends, is a most humbling place to sit.
As we sang the Star Spangled Banner, “The Land of the free, and the home of the brave,” were more than just lyrics in their midst. These fine young people, all 451 of them, had entered this base 12 short weeks ago willing, and now their training had made them able.
I whispered to my children that not all of them will return home at the end of their time of service.
Some may come home injured.
Some may come home injured in their hearts and minds in ways that only war can do.
But the truth of the matter is that some of them will give the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of freedom– their very life. And with that, my children realized the gravity and the somber reality of the choice these young men and women had made to serve.
“For Corps and Country…” the Marine announced over the loudspeaker. “Today, this event is all about you Marines…but from here on out, your life is about serving and protecting those in the stands…and the people of this great country…”
And as he released the men and women from formation, a great big “OO-Rah!” went up and the families rushed the tarmac. An ocean of embraces and kisses and handshakes and “atta-boys” had all of us in tears. We didn’t know any of those boys personally, but any one of them could have been my son. They were all America’s sons and daughters. They were all our children, now adults standing tall in their perfectly pressed uniforms, and standing ready to serve.
By the end of the day we had made acquaintances with five of the boys and had congratulated many more.
My hope in sharing this story with you is that you realize the price many in your midst are willing to pay for your freedom. I pray your eyes will be opened to the incredible opportunities this country provides us with at the cost of such sacrifice and the service of so many others. Thank your veterans. Pray with a soldier you see in the airport. Write letters to the troops or visit a base and find a way to show your gratitude.
I realize that not everyone can just pick up and drive to a base, but you CAN do something. So do it. Show your gratitude. Find a way. And in return you’ll discover it is you who are blessed and you’ll see all the possibility in the future of this great nation in places like that base. You’ll be inspired in your parenting to raise the kind of children that will make those armed servicemen and women’s sacrifices worth it.
To read about our trip, click here: Why We Drove All Night For Men We Didn’t Know