A little over a year ago, my sister texted me to let me know that her son, my nephew had signed a letter of intent to join the Marines. This was a good three months before the start of his senior year in high school. "Letter of Intent" is probably not the right term because that's what athletes do..I'm sure there's some other term for it that's much more manly and military sounding, but the point is, this 17 year old kid decided that he was going to join what most people consider the toughest branch of the military as soon as he possibly could after graduation.
"That's, umm? Great?" I remember saying. Not meaning "that's great" at all. More like, HOLY SHITBALLS ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? THE MARINES?? OUR CONNOR??
"I know," she said, "but he's going to legally be an adult. It's not like I can tell him no."
And she was proud of him. Scared shitless, but so proud of him, I know. Everyone was... still is actually because he did it. He graduated high school in May of this year and not even two weeks later, he was in San Diego for basic training. He graduated today, his 2nd graduation in less than 4 months, though I'm betting this one felt a little more hard won to him.
First, my sister texted me this picture:
Which I am still not able to really look at without tearing up. People commented on it things like "So handsome!" and "He looks like a MAn!" and while I know those things to be technically true, it's not what I see. I see a little kid running around in his underwear and a batman mask, only this time it looks more like a Marine's uniform.
And then my sister posted a bunch of photos from the Family Day and the graduation and the one that I kept coming back to was this one: