Biographical Non-Fiction posted May 24, 2022

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A mother's feelings as her son joins the U.S. Marines.


by K. Lang-Slattery

Even before his eighteenth birthday, my son was eager to join the U.S. Marines. As his mother, I was not as excited.

"Please, Mom," he often pleaded "come to the recruitment center to sign me up."

"You'll have to do that on your own when you're eighteen." This was my standard answer. "I'll not stand in your way. But I can't support you in this."

"Will you at least sign permission for me to get a physical?"

In my mind I saw visions of young men in their skivvies, standing in long lines. I envisioned a doctor handling his genitals and asking him to cough. This would not be a fun afternoon for my son. Maybe it would slow him down.

"Sure, I'll sign, but I won't go to the recruitment center."

My son grinned. "The lieutenant will come here."

I should have known then there was more to this meeting than met the eye.

The following week, a tightly coiffed young blond in dress blues and a male sergeant arrived at our home. After my son introduced us, the officer handed me the papers. With a flourish of the pen, I gave permission for my son to be poked and prodded.

I returned the paperwork to the lieutenant and asked what would happen next.

"Don't worry, Mom," she replied in her lilting Southern accent. "Once he's passed, he can sign up the same day to join the Marines." Her presumption that she could now call me Mom made me feel contrary.

"No he can't," I said. "He won't be eighteen for another five months."

"Oh, that's no problem," She assured me. "He can sign the contract to join the Marines when he's seventeen and a half."

"Wait! You mean that he needs his mother's permission to have a physical but he doesn't need it to sign away the next four years of his life?"

"That's correct. Don't worry, Mom," she said. "We require he finish High School before boot camp," she added. "He'll still be home till he graduates, except for one weekend a month doing recruit training with us."

I looked at my son. The glitter in his eyes and the poorly controlled smile confirmed I had been set up. My son's life had drifted beyond my control. He would be a military man of determination and action.

Armed Forces Day 2022 writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Word Count: 350-400. This isn't Memorial Day or Veterans Day, yet it honors those in service in all branches of the military in many countries besides the USA. Write a story that involves you and your family. Please post writing with a content rating G (suitable for children).

This happened only three months before 9/11. Since then, my son served eight years in the Marines, including two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Happily, he decided eight years was enough and he is now a civilian.
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