Today is Veterans Day here in America, a day of honor and celebration that has its roots in "the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1918, when Germany signed the Armistice to end World War I. I have written before about what this day means to me. My military service took place during the relatively peaceful era of 1985 to 1990, but it still wasn't all that easy. I know firsthand about the dread of boot camp, and the difficulty of enduring even basic training... but to me, my motivation was clear: I wanted to serve my country.
Through those experiences and others, I came to have ultimate respect for those who have gone far beyond "basic training" to become the Marines, the SEALS, and other elite members of our special forces... whose bravery and daily commitments are seemingly made of granite. It is nearly impossible to duly honor them and express the appreciation they deserve.Below, I am very proud to share the touching personal message I received from my cousin, whose son graduated around this time in 2011 as a Navy SEAL. Throughout the ordeal of her son's training, we received updates of the harrowing experiences -- one after the other -- that this young man, and others like him, were willingly facing in order to serve our country. He was literally knocked back time and again, and each time, he stepped back up with even more determination; he never gave up, and today, his dream of being one of America's finest and best trained specialists is a reality. And like everyone who wears a military uniform, ultimately, he did all of this to serve us.
As you read this and otherwise participate in Veterans Day in your chosen ways, please think of those young people who have dedicated their lives to the military, and consider reaching out somehow to let them know you appreciate them. Also, I invite you to learn more about the Wounded Warriors Project, and consider making a donation. Thank you!
To all the prayer supporters:
Matthew left for boot camp Feb 11, 2010... and came out of there with the biggest stack of mail. Thank you to all his family and friends that sent him mail... I remember him telling me that he felt so bad for his bunk mate that he let him read some of his mail. On June 23, I stood in the parking lot of Great Lakes and hugged him goodbye. I think that was the hardest thing I have done so far, just knowing that he would begin his induction into the Navy SEAL program, known as INDOC (remember that was 3 weeks), but he made it and then the journey of Phase 1, 2 and 3 of BUD/s began. When I talked to him the other day and expressed how proud I was that he had made it, he said "Oh, mom it really wasn't that hard." He was kidding of course. I think he has forgotten, the cold and wet, the log PT, all the timed runs and O-course, the night time evolutions with the boat hitting the rocks, not to mention having to carry that boat on his head everywhere he went.... The inspections, and failing the inspections, and having to get wet and sandy. Not to mention HW, drown proofing, untying knots at the bottom of the pool, the 50-meter swim, supergluing the cracks on his hands from doing push-ups with all his gear on the hot pavement, getting rolled back in Phase 2, and then to have the trouble he did with shooting in Phase 3, but thanks to all the prayers that went up, he passed with high marks, only to have the instructor say, "What got into you? Did the light bulb finally go on?" I think he had failed that test 4 times prior. His swim buddy losing the swim board they used to dive deep, and he had to stand in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the night with his shorts on and was told to dive in every time his arms dropped. He said he has never been so cold as then, only to face Kodiac, Alaska, in SQT. He graduated from BUD/s Feb 2011, and then on to SQT training. The desert runs to Jump School, and getting rolled back for the second time. He certainly has gone through a lot... but one week from tomorrow, we will be there to watch him graduate and receive his Trident Pin as a Navy SEAL! Along the sides of the ceremony will be guys from Phase 1 standing, and who will have to get wet and sandy after his class graduates. I remember Matthew telling me how he had to stand there and get wet and sandy after watching a class graduate, and he could picture Greg and I sitting there to watch him graduate some day... and November 10th is that day! Language school will follow the graduation and I believe that is about 3 months and then he will be stationed with the East Coast SEAL team. Matthew does have one more thing before graduating and that is this weekend.. He will have SERE training...otherwise thought of as the mock POW camp... he didn't seem worried about it... just wants to 'get er done' I guess. Matthew from the start has wanted to serve his country as a Navy SEAL. I pray for all of our service men and women that serve us in the military. As Veterans Day approaches, may we all be reminded of those that have and are serving, and fly our flags proudly.