Perhaps you did not realize it. It certainly did not make national news headlines. But once again thousands of our nations finest young men and women have followed their calling to our nation’s service academies. Last week and this week they will stand and take an oath to protect and defend our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Their parents will stand and watch with hearts full of pride and eyes filled with tears as the next generation of our nations leaders begin their journey toward honor, courage, commitment, and service.
At the same time smaller groups of young men and women can be seen in airports, manila envelopes in hand following their calling to serve as well. They assemble across the nation at Ft Jackson, Great Lakes Naval Training Center, MCRD, Ft Benning, Lackland AFB, USCGA Training Center Cape May…their mommas and dads wait for phone calls and worry until they too can gather to watch the the graduation parade that signals they have completed the grueling tasks that lay before them.
What is it? What draws these young people to put service before self in an uncertain time? They will be asked to travel far away from home and make great sacrifices to wear that uniform. And they still keep signing up. And for some of us parents it is a great mystery. You want to be a Seal? An Explosive Ordnance Technician? Where did this come from?
And then we remember -the little boy who wanted to be knight who fought the dragon and saved the kingdom. We close our eyes and see the little girl on the playground making sure everyone got their turn in line. The calling to fight for right came a long time ago-they just found a way to make it happen.
So today as the great migration begins to Annapolis for Induction Day on Wednesday I think of all the parents who are sending their most precious treasures off much like I did three times over. I wept as I knew childhood days were over, and I was overcome with pride in anticipation of what was to come. And despite all the goodbyes and the worries I can honestly say it is worth it. No guts no glory indeed. Godspeed to all who are embarking on the beginning of their nation’s service and to all who are letting go. I stand with you in pride.