My boy is officially a Marine. Todd and I were able to fly out to San Diego and see him graduate. It used to be that families could come out and have a "family day" the day before graduation, then watch graduation, and the recruits could go home for 10 days before going on to Infantry Training. Thanks to covid the graduations have been closed to everyone for the last year and after graduation the recruits were shipped off to Infantry training the next day.. A few weeks before Joe's graduation it was announced that 2 guests were allowed at graduation. The guests could watch graduation, have 5 hours with their Marine, and then leave the base. The new Marines would be shipped off to Infantry training the next morning. Not ideal, but we were thrilled to at least be able to see our boy.
It was an extremely emotional visit, to say the least.
Joe had a message for all the family and friends that had prayed for him throughout boot camp. And he had a special message for his classmates that would be graduating this weekend.
I love this video. The new Marines are dismissed by their drill instructors. There were 6 platoons (345 recruits) and you can hear each platoon down the line being dismissed. So cool.
That first hug really hits different. Man, I missed this boy.
Still my same goofy Joe. Thank heavens!
Before we knew it our 5 hours were up and we were giving our last hugs. Man, five hours just isn't enough time. It was tough. And Joe was very emotional. He whispered in my ear, "I hate growing up." It broke my heart.
As Joe walked away to his barracks he kept turning around every 10 feet to see if we were still there. This image is burned in my brain.
It was very difficult leaving Joe after only a few hours. And we have no idea when we might be able to see him again. However, Joe was able to get his phone back and would be able to send sporadic texts to us from time to time. That was a luxury we have not had for months.
We flew home on Friday night. When we got home Joe had sent us a text saying that a friend had told him the message he made (that I posted to Facebook and sent to his principal) was played at the Baccalaureate ceremony for the graduating seniors that evening. Apparently all of his classmates were thrilled with the video and loved seeing him in uniform. We were all completely overwhelmed with the show of support for Joe from the principal and the school.
This is the Baccalaureate ceremony, held outside because of covid, watching Joe's message.
Today was Joe's graduation. Obviously he couldn't be there. Joe has always dreamed of walking the graduation ceremony in a military uniform but because of covid he was unable to come home. Our family went to the graduation ceremony anyway to support his friends and classmates. We definitely weren't expecting this reaction when Joe's name was called.
This is the professional video put on YouTube so the cheers are a little muffled.
This is my video. It is kind of all over the place because I was truly shocked by the reaction. I went from cheering and screaming, to mouth hanging open in surprise, to crying. It was overwhelming. I didn't even hear what the announcer said after Joe's name because I was cheering. And then all of a sudden the whole crowd was screaming and cheering for Joe and I was completely taken aback. Still makes me tear up just writing that.
I was able to send Joe a message about what happened at graduation but he still hasn't been able to view the videos. There isn't very good cell phone reception where he is so the videos aren't working right now. I can't wait until he sees them.
It has been a very emotional few days as you can imagine. And my youngest boy will be graduating from 8th grade on Tuesday so I'm sure I'll be a big baby about that too.
Parenthood. I tell ya. It's not for the faint of heart.