By April Agle, a new Marine Mom
We were allowed on base for family day on Thursday, November 4, 2010, starting at 5:30 a.m. I was so going to be there and we were. We were not the only families anxious for a peek at our Marines.
This was also my first time on a military base.
Even though 5:30 – 6:00 a.m. seems early to us, the base was a bee hive of activity. There were Marine recruits everywhere and in different weeks of boot camp. They all looked the same. How were we going to find Jared? And would we even recognize him?
Jared’s graduating class had a morning run that we watched and we had no idea which Marine was Jared. Then, we all had to go into this huge metal building where bleachers were set up. We were told that the Marines would file in. They would be dismissed, but they had to stay on base and they had to report back by 4:00 p.m. We were to make sure they were not late.
The anticipation was killing me. The Marines filed in and we were all looking for Jared trying to figure out which one he was. They really and truly all looked the same. So handsome in their uniforms. I teared up with pride for them all. There were hundreds of them and they were all so young.
And then chaos. The Marines were dismissed. The families in the bleaches converged on the Marines and the Marines were converging on their families in the bleachers. People everywhere and everyone looking for their families.
Jared was able to find us. I was so proud of him. He looked absolutely amazing. We hugged each other and cried. Everyone’s emotions were high. I had such a lump in my throat. My son was a Marine. How awesome.
On Wednesday night before family day, a Marine was set up in the hotel lobby for families to ask questions. He made the suggestion that we might want to bring a picnic lunch because the restaurants would be packed. We would waste a lot of our visiting time waiting in line and for food.
It was a great suggestion. We bought sub sandwiches, chips, sodas, cookies and munchies. I had asked a Marine on base where there was a playground picnic area on base and he gave us directions. That worked out great. It was somewhat away from everything going on and the kids had a playground to play on and run around.
My emotions were all over the place. Jared was so different, but the same. He seemed very stiff. He almost seemed uptight, like he was not relaxed. I thought, how am I supposed to talk with him. He was not at ease, but almost formal. I was concerned, but tried not to think about it. I was thrilled to see him eat.
We took pictures until I’m sure Jared thought his face was going to fall off. Jared told us the plan for graduation. He was going to go directly back to his barracks and get his sea bag. Roger was to meet him by the flag pole and they would head to the car. That would allow us to get off base as quickly as possible. It seems Jared wanted off Paris Island as soon as possible.
Friday, November 5th – Graduation Day. I can’t explain it other than to say – WOW. Hundreds of Marines marching in formation and all in dress uniform. It was an impressive sight. I was so proud of them all. There were men and women Marines graduating.
We finally got Jared and made our way off Paris Island and to the hotel. I still felt that Jared was very formal or reserved. It took another day for Jared to finally start to ‘decompress’ or something.
The only thing I can think of was that Jared had been under a microscope for 12 weeks. He was judged each and every minute of every day. I guess maybe he had to figure out that he was not being judged anymore. He had to maybe tell himself it was okay to relax. As the days went on, he became less reserved and formal. He started to joke around and argue with his sister.
Rylee and my niece Madilyn had used car chalk on all of our vehicles for Jared’s graduation. The cars now proclaimed USMC graduate Paris Island. On our drive home, it was so great, cars would pull up next to us and beep the horn and give a thumbs up. Jared thought that was cool. I think he was still trying to absorb that he was a Marine.
We were driving down the interstate into Florida and a police SUV started beeping its horn and continued beeping as it passed us. My guess is that he was a Marine and was letting us know he too had experience with Paris Island. Jared was now part of a brotherhood that only another Marine would understand.
April Agle works in WUSF’s business office and among her many duties, she helps me and other staff with Human Resource issues. Her other contributions:
Here’s a link to WUSF’s first radio story when Jared graduated boot camp.
Filed under: Marines, Military families | Tagged: Graduation, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Marine Mom April Agle, military families, PFC Jared Agle, postaday2011, United States Marine, USMC, WUSF |