Today Evan had his "swearing-in" ceremony to join the National Guard. He's only a junior in high school this year, so he's doing what is called a "split plan" where he'll go to basic training this summer for 10 1/2 weeks and then for his advanced training the summer after he graduates. I know that this will be a good thing for him in many different ways, both now and in the future. I truly am excited for him as he starts this new season in his life.
However, I still am feeling... I'm not sure what, exactly.
Proud, to be certain. Our family may be imperfect in many ways, but we've always had a deep love and appreciation for our country. My dad served in Vietnam. Tom has served active duty in the Army, and in the Reserves, and for the Guard. Josh, of course, has followed in his footsteps, serving first in the Guard, and now active duty on a Special Forces team in the Army (an accomplishment that is still unbelievable to me, knowing what he had to go through), just returning 2 days ago from a tour in Iraq. Evan goes into this with eyes wide-open to what he could and probably will face. To join, in spite of that, I think shows a lot of character.
Old, too. I know, I know, I'm really not that old in the grand scheme of things, but it literally seems like just yesterday he was a baby. I cannot seem to get my head around the fact that he is less than 2 years away from graduating, much less that he is taking these giant leaps toward becoming a man. Of course, he is still a teenager, so there are many days that it seems like I'll never get him there, but today, watching him take the oath and hearing him talk about the future, has made me realize how close we really are to that reality. My baby boy is growing up and will soon be gone. And Braden's following closely on his tail...
Scared and nervous. Especially because of my dad's, and Tom's, and Josh's experiences, I also go into this with my eyes wide open. These last months while Josh was away were very hard, not knowing what he was doing, if he was safe, how he was feeling, physically and mentally. We know that it will be all-too-soon and Josh will be off again. Thinking of having both of them potentially in harms way, maybe at the same time, seems almost unbearable. I honestly don't know how I feel about either of the wars we're currently in, and it doesn't take a genius to look around and see that there will never be a shortage when and if these are ever resolved. It reminds me of a Bellamy Brothers song, a remake of their hit "Old Hippie," but this version is called "Saved." In it, the following line has always stuck with me:
"I've been confused by the issues,
from Vietnam to Desert Storm,
But I pray every night for
the guys and gals in uniform..."
That would describe me perfectly. I know it's always easy to think, "it could never happen to my son," but it DOES happen to somebody's son or to somebody's daughter; lots of them, in fact. I truly believe in God's providence, but the thought of it still is hard. I can only imagine how I would actually handle it if it were to happen to us.
Anyway, those are the overwhelming emotions racing around inside me at the moment. More than anything I'm proud that we have managed to raise such conscientious sons and that they are willing to step forward for their country. I'm excited for Evan as he faces the future and pushes forward, making his own way and experiencing things he likely never would have without this. And I'm proud of the family members who set the example before that paved the way for him now. As Evan put it today as we were driving home, "Dad always made it seem like an honor to serve, and it is..."
And here we think that our kids aren't listening.
P.S. I promise to be more light-hearted soon... Seems like the last few weeks have been pretty heavy. :)