My son joined the military a little less than a year ago. He went to Basic Training and has since been stationed overseas. He is a man. A young man, but never the less, a full grown, 6’7 man. I still picture him as a small child running around in his superman cape in our Las Vegas neighborhood or laughing and playing Star Wars light sabers in the middle of the street until the lights came on at dusk. Even better, he was always shooting a gazillion baskets through the basketball hoop in the street or in the backyard and coming inside with filthy hands which he’d wipe across his sweaty face making black steaks-much to my dismay! I’d take him to endless sports practices, guitar lessons, school events, and tutoring….all while trying to make fun memories that would endure and stay with both of us for a lifetime. It went by so fast. Way too fast. Everyone always tells you that but it’s not real…until it is.
All the while, as his parent, I thought about his future and what kind of choices he would make in his life. Don’t we all do that? Worry? Fret? Lose sleep over the dangers they will face…the influences they will encounter? Will they have the courage to do the right thing and make the right choices? Don’t we all dream for our child’s well being and their future? We hope and pray and teach and guide for all those years and then one day they are an adult. They are making their own choices and doing their own thing. And, they are doing their own thing without the guidance of their parents, gasp!
Well, as difficult as it has been for me to completely let go of my young son and allow him to be his own man, I can say with complete certainty that I am proud of his decision to join the fine military of the United States of America. Yesterday, brought home to me that feeling that he is doing just what he should and that maybe I shouldn’t worry so much still about what he is or is not doing? Just maybe I worry too much about, well….everything. You see, the sudden inspiration for these thoughts (pen to paper) was a chance encounter he had with the Vice President of the United States of America. What? My 20 year old son? Yes!
While eating at the Airbase Cafeteria, Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States came in…just passing through on his way back to Washington. You know, a very normal occurrence….for the Vice President… but certainly not for the group of young men and women he visited and laughed with over fruit punch, hamburgers, and green beans. (I am speculating on the green beans but I always picture them looking very sad in a silver food bin in a cafeteria line.)
“For the love of….are you kidding me?” I almost didn’t believe my son when he called me to tell me. I thought he must not be getting enough sleep or something. Are you staying up too late? Drinking caffeine before bed? Surely that was the problem. Maybe he needed a check up?
Then he sent me a photograph. Not just any photograph, but a photograph that looks as if he is best friends with Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States! They look like they could be “bros!” (No disrespect intended but they dooo!) They literally have huge smiles and a bear type handshake going on in the picture. In fact, I think they are standing so close they are touching! (But in a manly kind of way?) The magnitude of that? Can you imagine? I can. In fact, I think I am still in a glow FOR my young Airman son and I wasn’t even there! Imagine the class and down to earth nature so inherently present in a man in his position that would allow him to sit down casually with a group of young people like my son and make a memory that will undoubtedly be a blip in his own personal bank of memories but to a young person….the honor and memory of a lifetime! He could have gone anywhere for lunch…could have eaten a first class meal at any place of his choosing I’m sure! But no, he walks up to the cafeteria line in the military mess hall-carrying his tray and orders a hamburger to enjoy a lunch with the often forgotten young souls who sign up to defend our country. Class. Pure class. I am still a little stunned. Perhaps, because I am a little older, this type of situation is so impressive to me and even somewhat unbelievable. I truly hope that this event has made a valuable impression in the young minds in the room and that today’s world and social media along with the immediate transfer of information (false or true) hasn’t desensitized them to the complete and utter amazing honor this brief visit was.
This isn’t a political blog post. It’s really a respect post. In fact, I don’t care what side of any political spectrum a person is on….this is about respect and love for a Country, those who serve and those select leaders with Integrity and Character. It’s about doing what’s right even if it doesn’t serve the person doing it. That is an example I can totally get behind. It is simply about respect and if anyone doesn’t get that….perhaps that’s the problem then.
I am truly grateful for our Vice President and the act of kindness he showed to a group of young people yesterday. May they always remember the visit clearly and understand that it was THEIR personal life choices that allowed them to have that kind of HUGE opportunity-an opportunity most never ever get. Those young men and women made choices to do something honorable with their lives and get to work doing something productive and positive for both themselves and the United States of America.
I have always been a patriot. So proud to be an American. My heart has swelled at the sound of Air Force Jets flying over an NFL football game and I tear up at the sound of Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA. I am proud of it. I am now an Air Force Mom to a son who chose the military path and met the Vice President of the United States of America yesterday because he chose that path. Perhaps I should just stop worrying about him now and get on with it? I think it’s time. It’s funny what a man ordering a hamburger in a military mess hall can cause you to realize as an Air Force Mom and well, just mom. Thank you Mr. Vice President. God Bless America.