Army Strong

This week, we received our son’s official drill portrait via email. Makes me want to jump up and sing the National Anthem. Off-key and properly social distanced, of course.

Michael loves being part of his school’s Army JrROTC precision drill team. These boys practice throughout the year, most of them waking before 6:00am and arriving by 6:30am. They drill in the morning before school and, during competition season, for 8 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday. They are really, really good. In fact, they are one of the top teams in the nation.

They march and spin rifles. They prepare for inspection [Imagine someone yelling in your face and asking you rapid-fire questions ranging from your rifle serial number to the name of the cartoon character who lives in a pineapple under the sea]. They are attentive to the slightest detail of hand or foot position. Then they march some more. It’s all about discipline. And dedication. And teammates who become your brothers. They don’t usually enjoy Spring Break as they are preparing for the nationals portion of their season.

Like everything else, that changed this year.

Michael and his fellow Cadets were to board a bus today (departing precisely 1200 hrs.) and travel to Daytona Beach for the All Service National High School Drill Team Championship. Back in March, the Virginia Army Nationals competition (where they are defending national champions) was cancelled. The seniors on his team will never get these experiences back. Michael can hope for next year.

I know this pales in comparison to the situation that many find themselves in right now. We are healthy, my children are still receiving their educations, and we have food aplenty. While I am furloughed, my husband is able to work from home. I’m not trying to win a pity party. But I do feel sad. For Michael. For his teammates. For their families.

I can’t imagine how parents feel whose children are not experiencing to the fullest their senior year in high school or college. Or parents who aren’t together to welcome their first child. Or families who can’t be by the bedside to comfort a loved one passing away. I’ve heard it said that 2020 will be the year of the *asterisk. Perhaps it will also be the year of perspective.

But just because someone else’s loss may be greater than mine, doesn’t mean that I should brush mine aside. I think it is important to grieve these losses. To take a moment to imagine what life was supposed to be like and then to experience the weight of what life is now. To let all of that wash over you and cover you for a time. And then, with God’s grace and full of gratitude for His mercies, to walk into what today holds.

15 thoughts on “Army Strong

  1. You Kathleen and Sam must be so proud
    Michael has bars and medal
    What are they for
    I love receiving your blogs
    Thank you so much
    Myself and family are doing well
    Working from home
    Robert mr White Sox is waiting for return of season. Ugh


  2. Kathleen you and Sam must be very proud of your Michael
    I notice he has ribbons and medal What are they for
    My Brother served in Germany after Xavier and Fordham ROTC
    I so enjoyed your blogs Kathleen
    Please keep them coming
    Myself and family are doing fine



    • The ribbons are for various achievements within the military department at his high school. He wears three ribbons while competing. These are for completing plebe training, cadet challenge, and marksmanship. He has other ribbons but keeps it simple on his uniform for drill meet inspections. The medal is earned after completing one year of drill. So glad you like the blog. I miss you Dorothy!


  3. Congratulations to you, Sam, and Michael. He is so handsome and grown up. Great dedication on his part. Loved your reflection on life today! God bless you all.

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. I’m grieving with you Kathleen. I was due to fly to Daytona today (Thurs). So very sad about all that both of my boys are missing as a Junior & a Senior. So much glory for the Seniors & their accomplishments & for the Juniors taking responsibility for next year that won’t get the same public recognition. After watching the ceremonies for 3 years, I’m very bummed I don’t get to share them with my children. But, this too shall pass & we have our health & Dan’s employment so I am trying to be grateful in spite of the challenges. Hope you’re doing well!


  5. Well said, Kathleen. It’s good to acknowledge your sadness and disappointment. One thing this pandemic cannot take away is the pride you must have for Michael and all your children. God bless you and your family!


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