Army Strong Family Day

This past week our youngest son Kristopher graduated boot camp.  My husband and I traveled to South Carolina to be there and share this honor with him.  It was a very emotional week for me.  I was a complete mess… after we left him.  I tried to be brave and keep my emotions in check for his sake but boy let me tell you, I don’t even think I had both feet in the car before I lost it.

IMG_3842Here he is at his high school graduation in June.

Kris is our youngest child.  Son #4.  My baby.  He has never really been away from home before except the occasional sleepovers, maybe a week at the most visiting family in Maine.  He is an old soul, a real homebody, an all around good kid and I missed him terribly.

IMG_1351Here he is just a few days after leaving home in August.

We had a wonderful visit with him and I could not have been prouder.  Not only of him but of all these fine young men and women that have committed to keeping our country a safe place.  These young kids that have endured 8 weeks of boot camp, lack of sleep and still manage to smile.  I give them so much credit because after listening to some of their “bootcamp” stories I know I never would have made it past the first night.  I need sleep, a warm comfy bed and real food.  Plus I don’t like being yelled at.  I would have been crying for the entire 8 weeks without a doubt!  Anyway I wanted to share some pictures with you because we had such a great visit and we were really impressed with the job the Army did making everyone feel welcome and at home at Ft. Jackson.

Our first day together was for Family Day.  It started with a small ceremony.

When the ceremony came to an end the families were allowed out onto the field to find their soldier who had to remain in place at attention.  Imagine trying to pick your child out from over 900 other people that were dressed exactly the same and all looked alike, not to mention you haven’t seen them in 8 weeks and they have changed tremendously.  That young boy with hair was now a man with hardly any hair!!  It must be a natural honing instinct that mothers have built in to find their children because there he was, standing before me, trying to remain strong and then hugging me.  I just couldn’t believe my eyes.  The transformation was amazing.  I think at that moment I was like the Grinch and my heart grew 100 times bigger to hold all the love it was filled with.

IMG_1401Here he is after 8 weeks of basic training.

Nobody was allowed to leave base so my husband and I brought a small grill with us and enough food to feed an army (hee-hee).  We found a beautiful lake on base and had ourselves a cook-out.  Kris had been telling me for weeks that all he wanted me to do was bring food so that is exactly what I did.  I made a few of his favorites like chicken pockets, meatball grinders, mac and cheese.  Chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies and pumpkin bread.  We had cheese, pepperoni, crackers and grapes.  Hummus and chips.  Burgers, dogs, coleslaw, potato salad, lemonade and sweet tea.  Yep, that’s right.  There were 3 of us!!  We stuffed ourselves silly and invited another family we had met to join us but we still weren’t even able to make a dent in all that food.

After our cook out we went exploring and Kris showed us around.

Then we headed over to the PX to do some shopping.  Kris needed some incidentals like more ACU’s and boots.  ACU’s are Army Combat Uniforms in case you were wondering.  Those are the camouflage uniforms you see them wearing most of the time. After shopping we headed over to The Officers Club for dinner.  Even though we were all still full from our cook out we had purchased tickets in advance so we had to go, plus I really wanted to see the inside of an Officers Club ( I’m noisy like that! ).  Believe it or not but we did manage to put away another few plates full of things like shrimp, hush puppies, potatoes, assorted salads, chicken, chicken fried steak and cake.  Really, I see no problem with Army food!

IMG_4640This is Kris standing in front of the Officers Club.  Which is beautiful inside.  Fancy, schmancy!

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This is Kris standing next to the Commanding Generals parking spot.  As you can see he didn’t want to get too close.  This was one of those “Oh ma, why are you making me do this?” moments.

After eating way too much food all day we thought we would work some of it off and headed over to the bowling alley on base for a few games.  Nobody in our family bowls so it was rather funny.  I don’t think any of use broke 100. By this time I was exhausted and really missed my afternoon nap so after bowling we took in a movie over at the movie theater on base.  We came in on the very end of the movie but I didn’t care.  It was dark in there so I could shut my eyes and no one would know and I could sit.  It felt so good!  I think the name of the movie was Equilizer with Denzel Washington.  You should see it.  The end was good, I have no idea what it was about, didn’t see the beginning or the middle but the end….it was good (if you like blood, guns, and more blood).

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That’s the hubs.  I think he won the high score of the night with a 106!

Kris had to be back in his barracks for 8:30 that night so we said our good-byes and headed back to the hotel.  I was asleep in minutes.  Dreaming about my son and the very polite, respectful man he had become.

Stay tuned for tomorrows conclusion.  Army Graduation.

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