Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Can I have just a few more minutes? I will move forward, I promise, but I am only now able to speak or write of the graduation without crumbling.
The family day, on Thursday, was extremely emotional. You all know I was pretty darned excited at the prospect of laying hands on him. There was a presentation before we got to see our soldiers, and then we were dismissed out of the theater door, to wait for our company to come marching in, singing cadence from down the road. I videotaped their marching in.
Funny, the initial video I have is one of their marching and singing, before I had yet spotted mine. Brian's step-sister was standing behind me, and in the clip, you can hear her telling me where he is. You can also tell exactly when I spotted him, as my hands started shaking uncontrollably, and the video gives you motion sickness from there.
I had worried that I would cry when I saw him. I had friends, speaking from experience, warn me that it would be an emotional day. I was determined not to be the cry-baby Mom, and fall all apart. When the troops were dismissed and began to disperse, I made my way through the crowds and all worries about crying completely dissipated. I worried not, as I collapsed into his arms, sobbing. Embarrassed? Not bloody likely, everyone in the family followed suit, and every family around us disappeared. I assume that other Mothers were following my lead, but I was so engrossed at looking at my beautiful son, I really have no idea.
The next day I was in better shape. The opening ceremony for the graduation was amazing, and I only teared up during the National Anthem. After a slide show, a drill sargeant took the stage in the dark, and a spotlight appeared on him, creating an enormous, intimidating shadow behind him. "Companyyyyyyyyyyyy, Halt!" he screamed.
Oh, boy! Our boys were going to come in through that side door we'd exited to see them the day before! We just knew it!
As we turned to wait, 180 men stomped their feet behind the curtain on that wooden stage, BOOMmmmmm! And 180 voices responded to their drill sargeant. It was a soul-invading thunder, as they marched out from either side of the curtain, singing cadence and marching to their seats within the audience. It was one of the most chilling presentations I have ever, and probably will ever, witness.
We were invited to step forward as our sons and daughters, one by one, took the stage and yelled out, "Private Brian Jolley, Illinois" and then stepped forward to have their engineering medallions pinned on their collars.
And on this day, I didn't cry, but burst with pride a bit more. Slide shows had given me an indication of what my son had been through, as he all the while sent me cheery letters and spoke to me of "nothing new" on the telephone. Even with visuals, that parents of yesteryear didn't have, I cannot imagine the turmoil, hardwork, and verbal abuse he overcame.
There are simply no more words, I can only wear out the word "proud."
In this short video (not the shaky one!) he is in the center of the viewfinder, 2nd row back.