So Lydia says, “The ROTC Color Parade in the OSU stadium is no big deal.” (We had gotten an invitation as her parents.) “Maybe you should come next year when I have been in the NROTC program for awhile…” This was about a week before May 15th, the day of the parade. By Tues. we heard from somewhere that she might be getting a few awards; by Thur. Lydia called again, sort of wistfully, and announced that she would be getting more than two awards, and could we think about coming??
Bragging Alert! You might have guessed it was coming; in a mostly vain effort at discretion, the major part of our wanton bragging is below the fold… you’ve been warned!!
Fortunately, we did go, it was a beautiful day, and we sat at the end of the HUGE stadium, where we watched what seemed like fifty ROTC students raise and lower a 50 lb, enormous American flag.
Lots of important military brass were there; several gave a speech, lots of people marched around crisply, Beth got hot and moved into the shade and they handed out 39 awards. This is, apparently, a big part of military life– waiting patiently, and even paying attention, while people you barely know, or don’t know, get awards you never heard of. So, Lydia got one (the Ironwoman Award, the one she is most proud of, for attaining the highest physical training score this year. There was also an Ironman version); then she marched back to the line, where everyone was waiting to get the next award. Then she got another award, which involved money, I believe. Once more, she marched back to the line, after adding to her pile of stuff nearby. Award #3. By this time Beth and I were looking at each other going, “… can you believe we weren’t even sure we were coming until yesterday!!” After #3 Lydia marches to the very back of the line– it isn’t over yet. Finally, at the end, Lydia was presented with the “Midshipman of the Set” award, which I will translate as the “If There’s One Dog In This Pack We Can’t Do Without, It’s You” Award. This award is chosen by a panel of peers, not staff. Beth and I barely resisted jumping up and down and doing high-fives in the stands!!! Like, wow. Only two people got 4 awards, and the other was a senior.
Lydia informed us afterwards that some of the swords handed out to graduating officers were what really caught her eye, so I guess that will be next year ;-). Of course, the approx. $1000 she got in scholarship money wasn’t too bad. At the picnic dinner afterwards, we met lots of her teachers and COs (commanding officers). In our defense, some of them were bragging on her, too.
Lydia just sent us a link to an article about another parade that involved all the different ROTC units — sort of a modern-day review of the troops. She is mentioned in the article, and you can see her in the short video clip, marching in the middle of the row right behind the color guard carrying the flags.
Finally, I came away with a new realization. Some of the young men and women I saw honored that day would be in charge of 30 or more other soldiers in a matter of a few months, and could be in a firefight with Taliban thugs in less than six months. At 21, they all assume that they are at the beginning of a promising & rewarding life. In fact, some of them might be less than a year from the end.
This Monday is Memorial Day. Please take a moment to say a prayer for our new military graduates, and to remember the obvious:
Freedom isn’t free.