We drove twelve hundred miles round trip in forty-eight hours just to sit in a room with carpet tiles placed so the pattern was interrupted every square foot. We were not late, so I had time to observe my surroundings before the ceremony began.
The bright canned lighting hanging from the pitched ceiling reminded me of a surgical suite I had been a guest of twenty years ago. The doctor had held up the baby, all nine pounds dripping in bodily fluids, like a trophy.
I felt love and gratitude that I could not express at that moment and showed my admiration with a beaming smile and the words, “He’s so big!”
The pride of that moment still relevant today in this well-lit, poorly-carpeted room and shown by the guests’ adornment: a lady with sparkly flat shoes, a child wearing her favorite necklace, and me wearing a silver bangle with a Marine medallion.
On other days of the week, this room would be full of worshipers inviting the Holy Spirit to visit where two or three are gathered. I trust He will visit today as this event is opened in prayer. A nervous young man gives a good speech. Everything is orderly—the only way the Marine Corp does anything. I worry that I might get emotional. When I make it past my son’s name being called to receive his recognition without a tear, I am certain I won’t cry today. I look for a grown man, even a half-grown man, somewhere in the well-dressed group. They all look like children to me.
At the end of the ceremony, we stand together, Marines fill up one side, parents scattered on the other. Music plays. Then the room fills with a boom of men’s voices shout-singing the Marines’ Hymn. Something like my childhood memory of the Holy Spirit presses on my chest, grabs my throat and draws tears from my eyes. In that song, I hear fears they have defeated, I feel hope for the country and the future, and I imagine doctors holding up newborn babies and declaring not that it’s a boy or girl, but It’s a Marine!
I feel love and gratitude that I cannot express at this moment, so I show my admiration with a beaming smile and the memory of those words, He’s so big.