This is my Country
Last week, I sat in the reviewing stands under a cool, breezy sky in San Diego, California and listened to the band play, while waiting for the young men of Alpha Company to march out.
This is my Country
Land of my Birth
This is my Country
Grandest on Earth …
I tried to hum along but my throat closed and tears collected in my eyes as the United States Marine band proudly marched out onto the parade deck and faced the families of the newly minted members of the United States Marine Corps. They played while we waited.
You’re a Grand Old Flag
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave …
The band plays the national anthem and we rise in unison to salute the flag that we all serve. The veterans are asked to rise and once again I can’t breathe as I watch my oldest son rise and salute along with all of the other men and women who have previously served. I can see tears coursing down many a face during this time of remembrance. Tears for those who served and paid with their lives. Tears for those wounded in body and spirit. So much has already been given and now, today, we get to watch as 301 more young men pledge their loyalty to serve the United States of America.
Off to the right we can hear the barking cadence of the drill instructors and the staccato hammer of feet marching in unison. Our sons, in uniform, are marching towards the crowd. Proud. Erect in bearing. Beautiful in their synchronicity and youth. The band plays on but we no longer hear as we are focused on the sight of our beautiful sons. They snap to attention in front of us and the crowd erupts. I can only imagine what these young men are thinking. For the first time in thirteen weeks they proudly stand and face their families, no longer young boys, but United States Marines. They have survived. They were tested and they passed. Today they will graduate.
As I clap and whistle and cry, I can see that my curly-headed boy has grown up. I remember when he fell from the swing set and broke his arm. I remember when “gagwires” (jaguars) were his favorite animals and that his favorite snack was “scrawberries with nugar on top.” One year he and some friends were going to live on the land and only eat what they could find. That lasted until about 10:30 pm and then I ordered pizzas. He was going to be a newscaster and a chef. He started a prayer group in middle school and played the trombone in band. All of this runs through my head as I watch him salute and stand at attention.
I, along with all the other parents, are filled with pride and a little bit of remorse. Our sons have grown up. They have already faced things that we wanted to save them from. They had to dig deep and find out what they were made of. They are part of the future of our country. Despite the negative images and stories put forth by the media and other groups, America still has young men willing to step forward and serve. Willing to put their lives on the line so that others can live in freedom. Nowhere is that more apparent than at a graduation ceremony of 301 brand new marines.
The flag waves gently in the breeze behind the boys in uniform, as the speaker speaks. The kids in the stands start to fidget and I am sure the new marines are ready to be “at ease.” The flag snaps out and I can see the entire field of stars and all of the stripes waving in full glory.
You’re an emblem of
The land I love
The home of the free and the brave …
My heart swells. I am not just a mother here today, I am also a citizen of the greatest country on earth. I, too, am called to be loyal to the flag I serve. I am an American.
Congratulations to the young men of Alpha Company. May God bless each of you.