When we start looking back through the family tree, most of us have a family member here and there that has served in the military. For some families, it’s a sibling, parent or grandparent, or perhaps it’s you who served. Some families have generations of service to the military, while for others its having a family member serve may be a totally new experience.
Wherever you are in the above schema, one thing is for certain: it feels different when it’s your son or daughter that has enlisted in the service. Somehow thanking Uncle John for his service pales in comparison to the emotions you’re experiencing as the parent of a soon-to-be Marine.
And this is where the rollercoaster of emotions begins. Some of us experience pride right away. Some of us experience fear right away. Some of us experience relief right away. Some of us experience disbelief right way. Still others may experience commitment, sadness, joy, or disconnect. Sometimes the emotions change from one day to the next and even one hour to the next. But here’s another certainty: the range of emotions and the changing emotions is something that the parent of every military recruit goes through.
While sadness does not negate pride, my guess is that most parents experience some sense of sadness when their child leaves to go to recruit training. It means there is a risk that the child may one day end up a military hero (dying an early death) and - at a minimum - will be away from contact with the mom and/or dad for the duration of boot camp. That is sad even if nothing bad or harmful happens while the child serves his or her country.
- Marine Father from Illinois, 2009
And YOUR kid chose the Marine Corps. That in itself brings on yet another range of emotions. Most of us either know or learn pretty quickly that the Marine Corps claims to be a unique branch of the military. The pride, courage and commitment that everyone talks about may at times seem out of place when your emotions are on the down side of the emotional rollercoaster. But at some point in time during your journey as a recruit parent, you’ll read something or see something that will heighten your sense of understanding the pride of the Corps, and you’ll “get it”. That captivating moment may be as close as you’ll get to understanding the sense of service and commitment that your child knew when he or she signed on the dotted line with the Marine recruiter.
During recruit training, you’ll have thirteen weeks to connect and share with other family members using the message board communities here at Marine Parents. You’ll hear their stories of pride and fear and journey along with them to gain insight on what it is to be a Marine Parent. You’ll learn about the importance of the Marine Corps Birthday on November 10. You’ll learn what it means to hear “Every Marine a Rifleman”. You’ll learn all the anecdotes of the Marine Corps history that creates a truly unique band of brothers.
It can be difficult to understand how we can go from pride to fear and back again in the span of a few hours. But what you’ll learn along the way, is that the pride prevails in the Marine Corps family, and with the pride comes the honor, the courage and the commitment. The Marines use the phrase “Semper Fidelis” with one another, which is Latin for “Always Faithful”. To that, we say to you Semper Familia: Always Family. Welcome to the family.