Memorial Day has taken on a whole new meaning in my life. Let me explain. Like many Americans, I believed it was a holiday signifying the start of summer barbecues, beach days and a vacation on the horizon.
But now that my seventeen-year-old son enlisted and started a nine week Army Basic training program, I have developed a new appreciation for what young men and women go through, and what other service men and women have done for us, and continue to do for our country and our world.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I have often taken our freedom for granted. If only we lived in a peaceful world where every single person on our planet could fall asleep without the fear of being killed, raped, and had a safe place to live.
For the next nine weeks, my 17-year-old son, like all the other soldiers during Basic training will learn the following Seven Army Values:
* Selfless Service
* Personal Courage
“These values form the basis of your soldier character and they sustain a soldier in times of both peace and conflict.”
His daily training schedule will be the following:
Army Boot Camp 5 a.m. – Wake up
5:30 a.m. – Physical Training
6:30 a.m. – Breakfast
8:30 a.m. – Training
Noon – Lunch
1 p.m. – Training
5 p.m. – Dinner
6 p.m. – Drill Sergeant Time
8:30 p.m. – Personal Time
9:30 p.m. – Lights Out
And finally, let’s not forget the gas chamber training:
As explained on the basic training website: “The gas chamber is probably the most mentally challenging exercise you will have to overcome at basic training. Recruits have to breathe Ortho-chlorbenzylidenedimalonitrile. Wow, that sounds scary. Actually, it is just the active substance of CS gas. You might recognize the name better as the common riot control formula called tear gas. Now, the bad news is yes, you will have to go into an isolated room and breathe this gas in your lungs and it does sting a little bit. The good news is as soon as you walk outside, the exercise is over.”
For those of you who have fought for our freedom, and for those families who have suffered the loss of a loved one, please forgive my lack of understanding. I finally grasp the sacrifice that your son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, lover, friend, cousin, uncle, aunt, or other relative has gone through. No words can express the gratitude that I now feel.
I totally agree with you, Sonia. We owe our soldiers so much gratitude. I couldn't do what they do.
Wow…. Your powerful, frank, and humble post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for that. Please accept my sincere thank you, for your son's courage and commitment to honor and protect humankind's basic human rights of freedom. It is a selfless act of love on his part….. And yours. God Bless you both! -Ella
Your son, one of the heroes. I wish him the best of luck. My late father received the purple heart during his time in the armed services during the Korean War.
I'm sure this really has impacted your view of Memorial Day Sonia.
I tend to forget at times because I have no emotional attachment to anyone fighting in any of the wars around the globe. But when I see the homecomings, whether excited and fun or draped, I cry.
It's the sacrifice of the soldier and their entire family that is so poignant and meaningful.
Great post and wishing you all the best!
This is a very thoughtful reminder to all of us of the meaning of this holiday. My thanks go to your son and to all who wear the uniforms of our military.
Doctor Eclectic says
I still remember the gas chamber vividly from when I took my basic training at Great Lakes 57 years ago. I also remember the fire drill Navy Recruit Training used to teach with "Handy Billys" pumping full force how to control a ship fire to a few compartments. Finally, I remember my NCO, Chief Tarter, who took about forty disparate youngsters and in a few weeks turned them into a fighting force in the best physical condition they would experience in their lives.
I think about all of that everytime I visit my father's (and mother's) grave in Arlington.
Thanks for triggering the memory on a very appropriate day.
this is beautiful sonia. congratulations again on your fine young man. as my dad, a west point graduate, always says: duty, honor, country – 3 words he lives by.
Jotter Girl says
I am sure you are very proud of your son. It is my suspicion that he already has those 7 values going for him. Happy Memorial day.
Robert the Skeptic says
Two weeks ago I was standing on the Arizona Memorial staring into the rusting hulk just below the surface which contains the bodies of over 400 service men. Pretty sobering.
In Canada, we mark "Remembrance Day" in a similar fashion. It's on November 11th each year — recalling the day when World War One ended. I lost an uncle in that war; an uncle I never got to know. But he was the first of three generations in our family to be in uniform.
Blessings to you and your family in this important time of reflection.
Yes we do.
I appreciate your kindness.
I seem to be finding more families who have had someone in the armed services. Thanks.
Penelope J. says
Needed to read this to remember. I'd become a lot like you were so thanks for the reminder and update. My father was in both World Wars and my uncle in the 101st Airborne D-Day landings. Yet I'd totally lost track until now.
Congrats to your son for undergoing some of the hardest (or should I say with that gas chamber simulation, harshest?) schooling in the world – and with a smile. No wonder you are a proud mother. Military academy is for the bravest and the hardiest, and he sounds like a great kid who will become a great man.
Mads and Kelli says
Your son is someone to be proud of because of what his MOMMA has instilled in him! 🙂
He is a little bit of you!
Happy Memorial Day!
It did impact me mor than I expected. Thanks.
Thanks for your kind words.
So you have been through this and understand more than many of us.
My son would like to see if he can get into West Point.
What a thoughtful comment. Thanks.
That is quite sobering. Thanks for sharing
It seems like so many I did not realize, have family members who have served. How sad you did not get to know your Uncle.
When I was a kid I wanted to become a soldier and life took me in a different direction.
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