You Betcha I'm a Proud Army Mom

Ramblings of an Army mom and probably some rants about the world at large. These are my ramblings and rants and no one else's. Just so you know...

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Location: California, United States

That's a good question...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Enlistment Ceremony

Dec. 23, 2004 3:30 am
Wide awake...thoughts spinning in my head. The fact that I was going to go today and watch my daughter raise her right hand and swear an oath to her country was surreal. I was remembering growing up with the Viet Nam War - how every night on the news, there would be the body counts. The numbers were staggering. I was remembering where I was when the Gulf War was declared - how stunned by the news, thinking "oh no, here we go again." Thinking of the day the planes flew into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon and those passengers on Flight 93. Trying to imagine D~ over in Iraq, rifle in one hand, dodging bullets and bombs. Thinking, "yeah, right. Women aren't in combat..." I had stopped watching the MSM and had started reading the MiliBlogs. I knew there wasn't any front lines in this war for D~ to stay away from. Thinking of all the mothers that had watched their sons and daughters go off to war through the history of humankind. How do we do that?? Every cell in our bodies scream and rail against the very thought. But we do. With pride. And fear. Sitting there knowing that I was going to be joining a very special group of women whose lives had changed forever with one sentence: "Mom, I want to join the (insert military branch here). It was a mind boggling reality and what was more mind boggling was that it was my reality.
So, Ok. It was time to get ready. I said a prayer and took a deep breath and got myself dressed. I had told N~ the night before. He wasn't taking it well and had retreated into a scowl and silence. I heard D~ get up and start dressing. I poured myself another cup of coffee and lit another cigarette and waited for Sgt. W to come. D~ was going to drive up with him and I was going to follow in my car as he was going to have to leave from there and go somewhere else.
Well, D~ and I were ready and Sgt. W arrived. D~ got in his car and I got in mine. I was hoping that I didn't black out from oxygen deprivation on the way up. So I put in my CD of the moment and sang at the top of my lungs all the way. I figured it would keep me breathing. And not thinking. It worked - it may work for you if you find yourself driving to your child's enlistment.
We arrived and went in - I knew the drill by this time. I had my license out to hand over to another nice soldier who calmly acted as if this was any other day. It was, for him. Sgt. W went off to get things started. D~ and I sat in the waiting area, waiting. I had brought a book this time. But we didn't have to wait long. D~ went into talk to the counselor and get her MOS pulled up. Then there were papers for D~ to sign. Lots and lots of papers. The soldier that was taking care of this just kept printing out page after page on his computer! I just sat there reading each one as D~ was signing them. All our questions were answered. It was made very clear to us both what D~ was signing . And after all that was taken care of, we went back to the waiting area, to wait. Actually we were waiting for the Major to be available to perform the swearing in. There were quite a few kids there getting all their stuff done before MEPS closed for the Holidays.
And then it was time - Sgt. W took us to this special room they have for the ceremony. There was a podium with the official seal on it and the flags standing in the corners. It was a small room. I couldn't help thinking that it was too small for such a huge event.
We waited (are you seeing a common pattern here?) for a few more minutes. D~ and I milled around looking at the pictures on the walls, nervously giggling at each other. Sgt. W told us a few stories about his enlistment and we giggled at him. Then the door opened and the Major came in. I found myself standing up straighter as I shook his hand, praying again I wouldn't black out from oxygen deprivation. Major P then spoke to D~ about what the Army meant to him and what it could mean to her if she chose to take full advantage of the military. I was so impressed by all he had to say about the sense of self can acquire, the bond one acquires with one's fellow soldiers that lasts forever and goes deeper than family. I also appreciated how he explained that it was up to her what she got out of the military life. Then he asked her if she still wanted to enlist. He said, "you can stop right here and change your mind. No one will think less of you for it because not everyone is suited to the military . We want only those that want to be here." Actually, this surprised me. I thought it was by this time a done deal. I looked at D~ and watched her look him straight in the eye and say, "no Sir, I want to join." He smiled and looked at me, saying, "Alright. Let's begin." I watched My Baby Girl raise her right hand and say her oath. Tears in my eyes and goosebumps all over, I watched her become a member of the United States Army. A future soldier. A young woman beginning a journey not so many will take.

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

An amazing collection of words. Never to be said lightly.

Here is a good article about what happens at MEPS, along with some dos and don'ts:

MEPS: An Overview