When my little brother first started talking about joining the military, I didn't pay much attention. He was barely a teenager. We didn't have a long tradition of military service in our family, I knew relatively little about it, and figured his interest wouldn't last longer than a month or two.
Here we are, more than a decade later, and Matt is still very much talking about the military. Except now, he's in it. He's a Second Lieutenant in the National Guard. I am so proud.
This last weekend, we celebrated Matt's completion of Officer Candidate School, and the long journey he has taken to get here. There have been many prayers and crossed fingers and anxious moments on our part. Lots of blood, sweat and tears on his. While I appreciate his new title, what makes me most happy is the look of pride I saw on Matty's face last Saturday. He fought for this. He fought for this so hard. When people told him it wouldn't work out, when well-meaning family and friends suggested other paths, Matt didn't listen.
Just to name one example, a few years ago, we were talking about what his next step should be, and Matt said, "Emmy, I just want to help people."
I replied as only a big sister can, and said, "That's great, Matt. Go be a candy striper on weekends, but in the meantime you need a job that can pay the rent." Nice, right? I hate that I said that. I'm so glad that he didn't let anything or anyone get in the way of his dreams.
These days Matt is juggling his duties with the Guard, a job on Mizzou's campus, and his second semester of grad school. That's certainly more than I can handle. With all the negativity and divisive politics these days, it gives me great comfort to know people like Matt and his fellow servicemen and women are dedicating so much of their lives to protecting our country.
I know he's just getting started, but this is a milestone worth celebrating. I'm a lucky big sister to have a little brother I admire so much.
P.s. Watching the moms and dads and wives and kids try to attach these shoulder bar things was painful but entertaining. All part of the process! I had to capture this practice run before the real deal. :)