Monday, November 14, 2005

Semper Fi

The girls and I just returned from a 4 day trip to San Diego. It was our first all-girls trip, and it went pretty smoothly all in all. Hazel didn't sleep for shit, unfortunately, and was up no later than 5:30 a.m. every morning (the worst was when she woke up at 4:30 asking "Can we wake up, Mama? I wanna go to the beach!"). Since we were all sharing a bedroom, that meant Violet and I were up, too. Vi is always elated to see Hazel, no matter what the time, but I was horrified, and tried to keep the girls quiet until at least 6 a.m., so the working folks in the house could get some rest. The early wake-up calls resulted in the girls taking great naps everyday, which was nice. Uncle Tim, Mike's brother, was an excellent surrogate dad for us- holding the baby when I needed to help Hazel with something, or taking Hazel to the toystore while the baby and I napped. He cooked and chauffered us around and made me stiff drinks. He was awesome. We stayed with Uncle Tim and Nana (Mike's mom), which always thrills Hazel, because it's so close to the beach and because she gets to do pretty much whatever she wants while we're there, including waking up two hours before the crack of dawn to watch Noggin.

It was a really emotional weekend for me, which, combined with the lack of sleep (did I mention that Violet woke up once an hour every night?), made me kind of fragile. We were in San Diego with the rest of my family, to see my baby brother, Wyatt, graduate from Marine Corps bootcamp. I've been in major denial about Wyatt joining the Marines, even as he left for boot camp 13 weeks ago; even as I addressed the letters I wrote him "Recruit Fulkerson, Wyatt M., Bravo Company, Platoon 1127." It didn't really hit home that he was doing this until I saw him march out onto the Parade Deck, with 500 other graduates, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Thursday morning. Seeing these boys, now these men, marching in perfect formation, with perfect precision, in their crisp uniforms and shiny shoes was really powerful. Startlingly powerful. The recruits marched and marched and finally stopped in front of the stands, each platoon aligned with where their families were instructed to sit. It took me a few minutes to find Wyatt's beautiful face in the sea of khaki, but when I did, I just lost it. I cried like a baby. I felt proud and scared and sad and happy and a million other things at once. Most of what I felt was relief; I felt relieved to see him, to see that he had made it through some seriously hellish physical and mental conditioning, relieved that he still looked like the Wyatt I know. When the recruits were dismissed and allowed to come to the stands and find their families, I hugged and kissed him and just marvelled at how different he seemed. The little boy, the 18-year-old fresh out of high school and ready to take on the world, was gone. In his place was a man. A man who has seen things that I'll never be able to imagine, and done things he never thought he could do. A man who has endured more in the last 13 weeks than he'll ever be able to fully tell us about.

Despite my own personal politics, which can be summed up quickly as anti- establishment, anti-military, and totally against the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, I had no problem travelling to the M.C.R.D. to support my brother, and participate in what was probably the most important day of his life so far. Walking around the M.C.R.D. with our family, listening to Wyatt's stories about life as a recruit, watching him adjust to the first five hours of completely free time he'd had in over three months, I realized that my politics mean absolutely nothing in the shadow of my family. Anti-war, pro-Bush - it's all seems moot, now. All that matters now is Wyatt's safety, as he continues his training at Ft. Sill, OK, and after that, his imminent deployment to Iraq. Wyatt estimates that he will be in Iraq within 9 months. So for me, that means nine months to join the anti-war movement, and not just agree with them from the comfort of my couch. Nine months to add my voice to those calling for an end to the occupations, an end to the wars, and an end to the jeopardy that thousands of enlisted men and women are in. If and when my brother is shipped out to Iraq, I'll be here at home, supporting him the only way I can - by demanding that President Bush bring him home as soon as possible, and not sacrifice any more lives for oil. The fact that Wyatt will soon join the ranks of people in Iraq, risking their lives daily, really brings this war home for me - it's not just something I hear about on the radio or read about in the newspaper before turning to the A&E section anymore. It's personal. And while I support Wyatt's career decision to be a Marine, because it makes him happy and it is something he excells at, I don't support what the current administration is doing with our enlisted men and women. I find myself wondering how things would be different if Bush's baby brother was a Marine. Or if Cheney's daughter was in the Army. Bet your ass they wouldn't be shipped to the front lines.

Despite my feelings about this war, I still feel immensely proud of Wyatt for all the hard work and personal sacrifice he's had to endure to become a Marine. It's something he's wanted for a long time and it's something that didn't come easy for him. It's a major accomplishment and I am in awe of the kind of drive it takes to succeed at something like that. I'm happy that Hazel, Violet and I could be there to see the place where my brother, their Uncle WyWy, achieved a major milestone in his life. It was two days that I will never forget in all my life. Congratulations, Wyatt. I love you.


Blogger lesley said...

i cry every time i read your blog.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

My husband is a marine, has been for 10 years. Currently he's deployed and will be coming home no earlier than February.
I feel your post as if I had written it... we all just want this to be over and have every single one of our loved ones back home safely.
Semper Fi.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

boo hoooooo. i need a tissue now.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous flover said...

what a wonderful post, i could feel your post and my heart wrenched also coz i have not seen my brother in 3 years and he can't get a visa to come meet us coz of stupid rules and he has not yet seen his nephew and niece not once. And yes End the War now!

3:44 PM  
Blogger Debbi said...

Hugs Aly!! It's terrifying I know. My Mike was there for a year. He escaped unscathed but every single day was heart wrenching and I couldn't watch the news it simply horrified me and my mind raced constantly. I'll keep your brother in my prayers. All war is awful. All war is about money, land and power. Sadly, war or no war there will still be crazy, mindless lemmings setting themselves to smithereens and taking innocent people with them for reasons we will never comprehend and beliefs we can never hope to change. Changing hatred, fostering love, kindness and compassion is the only hope we have for changing the world. Christ tried it a couple thousand years ago and it didn't go so well for Him. I believe though if there was no hope at all of achieving it that God would have ended it all long ago. Yay for hippie mom's cause the hippies had the right idea all along.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous heidi said...

can't. figure out. how. to . find. email.

The necklace me...cause you are probably more blog savvy than me.

10:31 PM  
Blogger  said...

Alisyn, i think im a great writer until i read your blogs. Honestly one of the best things you've written. i cried. I hope youre doing well. miss you and the girls :)

7:29 PM  
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12:34 AM  

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