|The Grands, 1992|
Jared, Caleb, Katie, Adam and Jacob
Caleb has always been his own person; never like his brothers or his sister, quite unique. He could entertain himself for hours since a very early age. He's always had an intense interest in what was happening around him, noticing details that would escape others of his age or even a few years older.
During his 'middle years', Caleb struggled with his weight. He turned 18 and suddenly had focus and determination none of us knew was there. He decided he was going to get his weight down and immediately went to work doing so. He ran every day, he ate well, he had discipline I must admit I not only admired, but sometimes was a bit envious of.
About this same time, he decided he would join the military in some manner and did so. He came home to announce he had signed his papers and was enlisted with the Army Guard. He would be leaving for Basic Training that summer. We were so very proud of him, while being apprehensive about his decision and what the possible consequences could be.
He made plans to enter the ROTC with a long range goal of working for either the Secret Service or some branch of national security. Suddenly the boy had become a man right before our eyes. He had always been responsible beyond his years, but we were now in awe of his decisiveness. Basic Training came and went and some of his plans didn't pan out as planned. He dealt with the disappointment and moved forward.
AIT was scheduled for the next summer and he moved forward. Time for the AIT training approached and he began again to get into that 'military' mindset. He left for Ft. Leonard Wood and we waited for the day for graduation. That day came on Oct. 20.
His Mom, Dad and I travelled to Missouri with our hearts bursting with pride. Family Day was wonderful. He had excelled in his AIT and was graduating with honors in marksmanship. Well, of course he was! Graduation Day dawned and we were there an hour before we could go in! Finally, we found our seats and waited for the joy to become reality.
As we waited, we felt our hearts grow with appreciation not only for our soldier, but for every young man and young woman there. What a joy to see them so disciplined and proud to be serving their country! Caleb's time to walk across the stage came. His name was called and he strode purposefully across the stage to accept his award as the Top Gun for his entire platoon! Our little boy had now become a man and had out performed every other man and woman in his platoon, including the Drill Sergeants!
Talk about proud! I don't know about his Mom and Dad, but his Aunt Di cried and laughed and praised the Lord as she watched that little boy who was now a man march across that stage! I filmed video while his Mom snapped pictures and his Dad just sat back and allowed us to be the women we are!
Last Thursday, Caleb accompanied me on a trip to Nashville for a doctor's appointment. We stopped at a little quick stop for a snack and a potty break. As I stood at the counter paying for my banana nut muffin and my Coke, I caught a glimpse of Caleb standing nearby quietly observing the surroundings. There he stood, strong and straight, with his arms relaxed and hands clasped before him. He quietly looked back and forth around the business.
I cannot express with words the pride in my heart as I saw him there. Men and women were coming and going and each took their turn in glancing at him. Some walked a bit faster as they neared him, some walked a bit straighter, some smiled with that pride one feels when they know they are in the presence of a person who is trained to defend their country.
Yes, our little boy was now a man. How thankful am I that I have been allowed to be a part of his life and that he is in my life. I am proud of you Caleb. I am proud of the pride you have in serving your country, of the dedication you have shown to every aspect of your life; but more than all of these, I am proud that you love the Lord Jesus and serve Him with the same dedication, pride and faithfulness you have shown to your military commitment.
I love you my nephew; I always have and I always will.
Oct. 20, 2011
Ft. Leonard Wood, MO