Sunday, December 31, 2006

The beginnings of a soldier

It's funny how hindsight is so revealing. Looking back, I can spot many instances in Jamin's life that might have told me he would someday be a soldier. For instance, we got our first computer when he was almost six. I can still see him and his little brother perched on chairs, legs dangling with little red sneakers swinging in midair. The favorite game was "Wings of Fury", a flight control operation, where tiny airplanes would take off and land from little aircraft carriers, carrying out their missions to bomb enemy strongholds in the process.The boys would play it for hours, the joystick gripped and their bodies jerking from side to side to "help" with the landings.

I believe it was in the summer of '88 when JB was asked to be the ring bearer in the wedding of a dear friend. We traveled to Kentucky for the wedding, and Jamin, a bit self concious, was told what to do for the rehearsal. Well, his first trip down the isle was full of mischief--silly faces and and a walking style that was closer to that of a clown. It was his way of compensating for being in the unwanted spotlight. I met him at the end of the ilse, took him aside, probably got a good grip on his shoulders, and told him I was expecting more from him. "You walk down that isle like a soldier next time". I can still hear myself saying it. Apparently he could still hear it too, as he went down the isle a second time, stiff as a board, not flinching. An immediate soldier he had become, to the opposite extreme.

In sixth grade, JB was asked to take his turn at being in charge of the flag-raising ceremony at his elementary school. As I recall, each child did it for several weeks at a time. One morning, when I was dropping the other children off at school, one of the teachers pulled me aside. "You've got to see this, she said." I watched as I saw my oldest son come around the corner leading a group of other sixth-graders in a military-style march to the flag pole. A brief ceremony took place, orchestrated entirely by Jamin, who made sure everyone stood at attention while the flag went up. Half of the teaching staff stood and watched it seemed, as they had never seen anything like it. "Where did he get this idea?", I asked myself. Neither his dad nor I had taught it to him. But somehow he had picked up a sense of order that should accompany a flag-raising, and made sure it was accomplished, even with 11 year-olds.

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