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...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Family Day

It's 0600 Saturday. Already!! The last 2 days went by too too fast.
I didn't sleep much Wednesday night, afraid (hee hee!) that I'd oversleep. So I was up nice and early, champing at the bit to head over to FLW. I had the map out and knew exactly where we needed to go on base. Well, as exactly as my sense of direction allows. Anyway, we found Baker Theater, found a parking space and headed in to get our seats. I bypassed the looong line for buying t-shirts and the cd photo album. I didn't want to miss anything. I looked around and saw all the families that had come to honor and support their soldier. It was a full house by the time the briefing was to begin. One thing I have to say for the Army - they start on time. I appreciate that.
I'd love to give you a play by play description of the event but I can't - way too emotional a time for me to be close to coherent in my reporting. I knew I was in trouble when they started it off with a slide show of our troops set to the music of Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue and then went into another slideshow of Recruits at FLW set to the song, also by Toby Keith, "American Soldier". Then our kids marched in - all 4 Platoons - all dressed in their Class A's, all standing straight and proud. By this time I had gone through half my tissues. Then I saw her! My breath caught in my throat as I looked at this beautiful young woman standing there in a (blurry, watery) sea of Army green. When they say your kid will have changed, that doesn't even begin to describe it! (I'll have pics for you later.) I looked over at N~ and he was wiping his eyes. It was such a monumental moment. I also saw that D~'s Dad had made it and was on the side of the room, trying to locate her.
The First Sgt spoke and introduced the 1-48th Infantry and the Drill Sgts. Then there was another slideshow of the training that our kids had gone through. There wasn't a sound in the theater as we watched the incredible feats our kids had mastered. For those of us new to the miltary all I can say is that it was almost unbelievable what these kids (you know, the ones that could never hang up their clothes or put the juice back in the fridge or be somewhere on time or call when they are going to be late) were accomplishing. It was mindboggling! And can they yell! HUP!! We all sat entranced as the awards and promotions were handed out, except for the
flashbulbs going off as some parents (thank you N~!) had the ability to still focus and shoot!
We were then given the Instructions and Rules of Family Day and Graduation. We were told that we had D~ all to ourselves until 11 pm! But wait! We were also told that we were to go to the building where the Reception was to be held and wait there and have our soldiers come to us. Oh, the agony!!! (I think the Drill Sgts enjoyed that.) Another 20 minutes before we could make contact!! Well, you have never seen a room chockfull of people get up and vacate a building as quickly and as orderly as we did! Something about all the Drill Sgts and Officers standing there made you stand up straighter and proceed efficently. lol Even those of us who were old enough to be their Mothers!
We all entered the building and took up a spot and waited for our "babies" to come. And come they did - straight into formation. I stood there watching her straight back and turned to N~ and said, "look at her shoulders!! My God, she's totally buffed!!" He laughed and said "she's certainly not that wisp of a teenager that we saw off in August!" Not by a long shot! Finally! Finally, they had received their orders and were "released". I had found that I had been edging up closer the whole time we were waiting and then she turned around and saw us after giving her father a hug. And then I was hugging her and heard her say, "yup, she's crying." Of course I was! And hugging and hugging some more!! I finally let her go and let N~ have a hug and then I hugged her again. There was so much hugging going on in that room and laughing and talking
and tears of happiness flowing from all eyes. Oh, they should be able to bottle it - no one would ever need meds again!
D~ introduced us to some of her fellow soldiers and her primary Drill Sgt. She has great respect for him as well as the other Drill Sgts that were involved in her training, even though they pissed her off sometimes. After all the introductions and conversations had wound down, we headed off to find the car (thank you again, N~, for always knowing where we leave the car.) I just kept touching her.
She wanted to eat - one thing they let us know is that they are always hungry and can consume amazing amounts of food in no time at all. So we all piled in the car ( yes, she loved the Jag!) and headed out to lunch. I have never seen her eat like that!! She ate more food in one sitting than she ever did in a week at home!! All the while talking and talking. Another thing I noticed - the kids all were talking up a storm. It was so great! I sat there and listened, taking in everything. Her dad and N~ were taking pictures of her - the poor kid should still be suffering from flash burn! Unfortunetly, the expected "barracks cough" had turned into bronchitis. Alot of the kids seemed to have acquired it. (I'm just glad she's going to be at Ft Sam Houston, surrounded by Medical people so she can get checked out.) I had brought along her cellphone, all charged, and she got to speak with some of her friends. And we had the computer all set up in the hotel room so she could check her email. Apparently we weren't the only ones who had thought of this as we kept seeing new soldiers with phones stuck to their ears wherever we went. Some things just never change!
It did take a couple of hours before she loosened up and relaxed a bit. I sat on the bed and just watched her as she was chatting to people online. N~ said, "That's it! That's the sound we've been missing around the house!! The machine gun typing!" After she had enough of the computer, she wanted to go to the PX to pick up some things she needed. I loaded up on Army t-shirts and cards and coffee mugs - I love the PX! She laughed at me - that's my Mom - the collector!
We decided we all needed a refreshment by then so we hit this wonderful little coffee shop and sat and had coffee and talked some more. Well, she talked and we listened. Wonderful and funny stories of the past 9 weeks.
It was getting on towards dinner time and she was hungry again! So we all piled into the car and headed to this great restaurant we had discovered the night before. (If you're ever in
St. Roberts, MO go to "Aussie Jacks" - great food and people!!) Again I watched this child of mine consume great amounts of food! As we were eating, this older gentleman came over and said to her, "Soldier, you do not have to go anywhere or eat in 3 minutes or worry about Drill Sgts for a few hours. Relax! And enjoy yourself!" She said, 'Thank you, Sir!" We all laughed and he patted her shoulder and gave her a big smile as he walked away. We went back to the hotel room after stopping at WalMart to get her some cough drops and water. I could see her start to fade. After all, it was past her bedtime by now and she'd been up for a very long time. We talked some more and then it was time to take her back to her barracks. I think this "policy" should be changed. In fact, there are quite a few "policies" in the Army that need to be changed, esp. regarding Mom's visitation rights...I know, I know, I can hear the laughter now.
All the parents were there, bringing their Soldiers back. And helping them tote all the things that they had bought during the day! It appeared we weren't the only ones who asked "what do you need? What can we get you?" 9 weeks of not being able to send care packages to our kids takes its toll on a parent!! And finally it was time for the goodbye hugs - we didn't know if we'd be able to spend time with them after Graduation the next day. So we made the most of the few minutes we had left. And then we all stood there watching them disappear through the doorway. No one really spoke but we parents gave each other watery smiles and nods as we walked back to our cars.
What was really wonderful was the fact that almost every kid had family there. I had asked D~ if there were any that didn't have family coming (so we could be their proxy family, I couldn't stand the thought of any one of those kids not having someone to hug them and take them out to eat!) ) and she said there were only a couple but they were already taken care of. It did my heart good to see all the love and pride that was flowing all around.

I'm going to go download the photos now...