Monday, August 16, 2010

Uncle Sam Wants You

Tonight's the night. The night M signed his next ten years over to Uncle Sam. It's a done deal.

I am a little surprised to find myself feeling almost bereft, like I did just before he took off on his Adventure of a Lifetime. It's not as though there was any doubt about what he would do. Even at the worst moments he never seriously considered quitting. It's not even that I wanted him to drop out. But the chance was always there. True, the chance was slim to none, but now something fundamental has changed: Until yesterday he was there of his own free will; tonight that is no longer true.

So just like that, we are on. For the next ten years. Hard to believe to say the least, but look how fast the first two years went. ZIP!!! There goes another year. There goes another milestone.

It occurs to me that this is somewhat like getting married, or buying a house. As long as you are engaged, or renting, you are free to walk away at any time, no strings attached. But once you get married, or buy the house, you are...dare I say...trapped.

The Dad told me that M called tonight, his last call as a free man, while I was out. Without my phone. WAAAAAAAH!!! I never go anywhere without my phone. Except for tonight, of course. I tried calling him back, but forget about that, he had left for formation. I did get to talk to him later though, after The Deed was well and truly done.

M does not feel any different. But I do. I feel like I'm on some sort of collision course with Destiny, and I can't even get out of the way. I want to cry.

And as always, I feel immensely proud to be the mom of this honorable young man, now truly a soldier, member of the USMA Class of 2012..."For more than ourselves." GO, TEAM!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Yes = No

Off to Boston!

The West Point MUN Team spent their Valentine's Day weekend navigating miles of wintry snow and icy roads to participate in the 56th session of the Harvard Model UN Conference, where they represented, of all places, Nigeria.

West Point? Nigeria? Some kind of disconnect going on there, but let me tell you, the National Champion WP team did Nigeria proud! I'm guessing Nigeria has never been that well represented.

And M, like always, did us proud, too, taking second place in his political committee.

So what's next? The World MUN Conference in Taipei, Taiwan next month! Only M won't be there.

Ukraine with a 10-day exchange program? Or Taiwan with MUN? M had to decide, and given his affinity for things Russian, and particularly things Ukrainian, contest.

Yes to Ukraine = No to Taiwan.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Letter

West Point, and M, never cease to amaze. This is what came in the mail during the Christmas break. It's the letter every parent wants to get.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. A

Your son M was a student in my Army Operations course this semester, and I wanted to inform you that M not only displayed mastery of the course material but has also proven to be a leader among his peers, displaying all of the best attributes we seek to instill in our future officers.

In my class, a required core course for all 2nd year students at WP, we teach an intro to tactical thinking and small unit military ops. Imperative to success is the ability to critically think through complex tactical scenarios while under the stresses of time, situational ambiguity, and peer review. We do so in an attempt to replicate the realities of today's complex combat environment, and prepare your son for the likelihood of leading our nation's sons and daughters into danger. Students create a plan and then get up in front of their peers to defend it and associated decision-making, as well as take charge of their peers and lead them through actual tactical exercises outside the classroom. None of this is easy or natural for most college sophomores.

With that said, M performed in the top 1% of 1,135 students. This is no small accomplishment, and speaks to the dedication, commitment, and competence which he brought to the classroom every day. In spite of the numerous other demands on his time, M was able to prioritize effectively, completing all assignments on time, and with a high level of tactical competence and ability.

Even more impressive however, were the intangible attributes which M displayed in addition to his academic curriculum. His natural leadership of peers was evident within the first week of class, and continued throughout the semester. More impressively, M was able to lead in a manner that made people want to follow him -- not out of fear or a given duty position, but out of respect. This is an added responsibility that M not only accepted, but truly embraced. And on top of that, he did so with an easy going attitude, a great sense of humor, and the politeness and professionalism that made him a pleasure to have in my classroom.

As a combat veteran with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, I have no hesitation in saying that I would gladly select M to be a Platoon Leader in my unit today. He has the knowledge, attitude, and demonstrated leadership potential to confidently and competently lead soldiers -- and that is the greatest compliment I can think of to bestow upon a student of mine.

This is, of course, in large part due to the morals, ethics, and manners that M gained as a young man growing up in your household. You should be extremely proud of the young man you've raised, and know that he is performing exceptionally well her at WP. It was a pleasure having him in my classroom, and I look forward to watching his bright future unfold over the next few years.


Thank you, MAJ. We know WP places numerous demands on the instructors' time as well, and we are humbled that you took the time to pay us the best compliment a parent can get.