A few weeks ago, I wrote about one of the most difficult things I have ever done which was to go through Army Boot Camp in Ft. Knox, Ky. I also mentioned at that time that another difficult thing I have experienced in my life was watching my son struggle with a life-changing illness. Before I get into the specifics of the illness and how it changed his life, I need to give you a little background information about my son.
Ever since my son could walk and talk, he aspired to be just like his daddy; a West Point graduate and an Army Officer. Year after year, his Halloween costume was a pair of his dad’s BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform). He always dressed up as a soldier. As a very young child, he wore his snow boots on the hottest summer days because they were his “Army” boots. There was no arguing over how hot he would be; soldiers wore their boots, and he was wearing his. I was grateful at those times when I could get him to take them off long enough to get into the shower and to go to bed at night. Every stick or piece of wood was fashioned into some sort of “Army” weapon because soldiers needed to be able to protect themselves. He built an “Army” forts somewhere in the house or yard regularly. There was no deterring him; throughout elementary, middle and high school, his goal remained the same: to receive a U.S. Military Academy appointment just like his dad and become an active duty Army officer. Not even the events of September 11 changed his mind. On the contrary, they solidified his intent.
For whatever reason, I always got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when my son would speak of his plans for his future. I always doubted that his dreams would become a reality. I doubted his ability to realize his dream because I did not think he would be competitive academically. Chris was a good student; he had a very strong work ethic. However, as an educator myself, I knew there were other candidates out there that were stronger academically and … I just did not think it would happen for him.
I never verbalized my doubts to my son. I always encouraged him to follow his passion, his dream. I told him he could accomplish whatever he set his mind to, as long as he was willing to do the work. At night when I went to bed, I prayed my intuition was wrong, and Chris would realize his dream.
When he did not get his academy appointment right out of high school, he decided he should attend a military prep school. New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) in Roswell, New Mexico was his choice. He would spend two years there working on an Associate’s Degree in Science and on attaining his academy appointment. If the appointment did not materialize, then he would enter the military via ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps). This was his plan B. I liked his plan B; I entered the military through ROTC. ROTC officers received the same pay, responsibilities, etc. when they were on active duty.
At the end of his first year at NMMI, he once again failed to receive a Military Academy appointment. At a time when most people would give up (including myself), Chris soldiered on. He would not give up. In addition, his father and I continued to encourage him. He would apply one more time. He had one more year to complete at NMMI, which meant one more year to try for an academy appointment.
Soon after his final year at NMMI began, Christopher learned he was awarded an appointment to the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Tears streamed down all our faces! It was not a West Point appointment, but it was okay by him. He would enter the military via a military academy. His dream was about to come true!
I’m going to stop my story at this point and move on to my card. You will have to come back on Saturday to read the rest. 🙂
I call this card Bright & Beautiful Shooting Star. I was inspired by a card I saw on Split Coast Stampers when I created this one. Hope you like it.
Again, come back on Saturday to hear the end of my story. Until then…