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Just a Thought

My nephew recently completed Marine basic training in North Carolina's Parris Island and came home for 10 days after his graduation. Except for a few, very brief phone calls and some letters to his mom, it was the first time family members had seen him and spoken to him in three months.

Because he missed the holidays with the family, we had a Christmas in February celebration for him with a fake Christmas tree up and decorated, stockings hung, holiday music blaring and of course a few presents for our new Marine. We also replayed Super Bowl 51 knowing he didn't get a chance to see that amazing game. (P.S. It was just as fun watching it the second time knowing the outcome.)

When he left for training in November, he seemed like the nephew I had watched grow up over the last 18 years. However, seeing him three months later, there was a change in him; he looked a little leaner but there was a strength and confidence I had not seen before. He was proud to have completed his training, but not in an arrogant way and he appeared to have a look of purpose now.

I had always heard boot camp, or basic training, was very, very difficult, but after hearing about some of his experiences, straight from the horse's mouth, it was hard to believe anyone could complete it. And I'm pretty certain he didn't tell us the half of it. Still, just hearing about the physical and emotional demands he and the others went through was just incredible. I understand these tactics are a way for instructors to weed out who will be able to endure the life of Marine, but I know I wouldn't have lasted an hour, let alone three months.

Still, as we celebrated the family's new Marine, it was also a sudden jolt of reality seeing a Facebook posting talking about a group of servicemen who died during a training exercise. My heart sank for these young men and their families. It's something that is always so horrific to hear about but it hit a little close to home this time.

So in about ten days, our nephew heads back for more training and down the road a deployment is likely. He understands having just completed basic training that his time in the Marines has just begun. And now I understand a little bit more that when it comes to any part of military life, there's nothing basic about any of it.


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