Thursday, February 21, 2008

No Place for Combat in the Classroom?

I heard an advertisement on the local radio station for a news segment that caught my interest. It takes a lot to catch my interest where the news is involved. I'll blame it on the fact that I have a Marine for a husband who was deployed not so long ago. A Marine wife's nightmare is played out on the news daily...lots of "bad" news about IED's, combat casualties, insurgent attacks, etc will make an already restless night worse. Ok, side tracked for a moment...back on track now. This news segment was advertised as the military spending money sending numerous "recruits" to Parris Island. What makes this so significant? Well, they are sending educators to Parris Island. You can view part one of the story here I watched the segment to see that millions have been spent over the last 20 years to send teachers to Parris Island to give them a taste of what recruits go through in the process of becoming a United States Marine. Apparently some say that this should not be happenning because there are recruitment centers and schools should not be one of those places. This sent me into a mental rant! I paused for a moment to ask my Marine husband...what do you think of this? He's slurred something not so nice about "liberals" and tree hugging hippies. We agreed that this thought process didn't make sense.

There are several reasons that this statement of teachers seeing what the Marine Corps does to create a Marine was wrong bothered me to the core. As an educator it is my job to think about the welfare and future my students will have. I am to do all I can, within reason, to help prepare them to "be productive citizens in the 21st century" (a direct quite from our school mission statement). In order to do this it is my job to educate myself on possible careers for my students. It would be a good time to point out that I currently educate 6th graders, but would like to move up to the high school age group. I remember having several different business people come into our classrooms to talk about their careers throughout my own k-12 education. How is a teacher learning about the process of becoming a Marine any different? Is it because it has to do with the military? The military is a business, just like any other...except their "employees" literally sign over years of their life. If some high school student decides this is a good option for them, then I don't see how an educator being more informed about their student's possible career choice is a bad thing. Another thing I seem to remember occurring a lot is regular visit from recruiters to our high school during lunch hours. They were there on a weekly basis. Let's face it, we live in a world of turmoil. Someone needs to be brave and willing to step up and say "I'll make a sacrifice so others can be safe." The average age of an infantry Marine is 17-22 years old, according to the Marine I married. You find recruits in high schools, not just for the Marine Corps, but for all branches of the service. If I learn more about what it takes to become a Marine I don't think that will lead me to persuade anyone to become a Marine. You don't sign a contract like that unless you want to do so. I know a lot more than the average civilian about Marine Corps life, I think if anything I would encourage my students to think very carefully about whether or not to join the military. It requires sacrifices of all kinds to be a member of the military. Things like doing without some of the luxuries of life (both during deployment and being stateside), living far from family and having limited contact with them at times, saying more "see you laters" than "hello's", moving-a lot, biting your tongue when someone says something ignorant about what you supposedly do when all you want to do is fight back, staying up late and getting up early, and many other things.

I think you get what I'm trying to say at this point. I just don't get how teacher's becoming more educated on something could be wrong. Maybe I just don't get it because I'm a Marine's wife and I grew up in rural Ohio. A large percentage of the military population comes from Ohio (if you didn't know). Why? Because there isn't much else industry wise and as farming is dying out people are seeing the military as a way to pay for college, have a steady job, and/or get out of Ohio. As a sidenote, I think I may be checking into this oppurtunity to see another side of the Marine Corps. I think it would be super cool to spend a week there "playing a recruit." My husband would probably laugh at me and say I had it easy. We both know he's right. They may be giving educators an inside look at bootcamp, but only those who have survived to become Marines know the reality of bootcamp and I love them for it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Longest Day & Love

I have been thoroughly enjoying the fact that my husband has finally come home from deployment and in fact have been too busy, until now, to write about the actual homecoming. Dave was scheduled to come home Jan 30th. I took the day off from school because he was supposed to get home around noon, which Marine Corps time is like 1, but still worth taking off the day from school. Our friend Amanda, whose boyfriend "Doc Rob" was deployed as well, had come the night before to stay so we could count down the hours until our guys got off the boat. Our morning starts off okay. We're up and getting ready so we can head to base around 11am or so just to be sure we get there in time to see our guys. We get our first phone call to tell us they have been delayed due to some high waves. They'll be at least two hours late. Ok, that puts us at 2 pm (really probably 3 or 4 USMC time). We're getting ready to think about leaving a second time when we get another's looking like 5-7pm. Ok, rather annoying because I probably could have gone to work and had something to keep me busy all day. Then the last call comes in...9pm. What?! So we leave the house to find something to do because at this point it's only 2pm or so and we still have several hours left to wait. (Remember, if they had come in on time we would have already been reunited with our boys by this time...we're not thrilled.) We go to Target, we go eat some ice cream from Coldstone, and we meet up with my teacher friend Anna who says..."go to the school and do your sub plans for tomorrow, just take the day." So we go to the school to do my sub plans, which I doubt I'm going to use. Right as we are leaving the school I get another call that says they'll be in around 8pm. So we leave to get back to the house and to retrieve our "Welcome Home" stuff and go to base.

I should mention at this point that I spent the night before cooking and baking for "my boys". I knew that "my boys" who are like my adopted children would not have family there to welcome them home. I decided they would need a home cooked meal and a few supplies. I bought towels, wash cloths, and travel size toiletry items for them. I also made lasagna and brownies and put them in "to go" gladware comtainers. Each of my boys received a "Welcome Home" bag of goodies to help them survive their first night back. It turned out to be a great thing I did this because after being up at the crack of dawn and then being delayed several times the boys were hungry by the time they ended up back on dry land.

Ok, so we get to the base and begin the final, "final countdown" until the time we are reunited with our guys. We get there at about 7pm. We finally see them get off the bus about8pm back at the armory. Which we know means more waiting while they turn in weapons, the single Marines need to receive their room keys, and they have to have their blood drawn to be sure they didn't pick up any disease while there. Finally, around 9pm we hear them coming (they march in formation to the "reunion area") and the excitement is high. Their formation stops just short of where the crowd was standing, trying to wait patiently. I immediately spot "Bivins" and go running towards him as soon as they were dismissed. Poor guy, I told him to look for the turtle poster I made and instead I attacked him. He said all he saw was this big turquoise blur coming at hime. I bear hugged him and then began sobbing, just a few quick sobs, and then I was smiling. I completely forgot about anyone else around me and was lost in the moment of "getting my arms around him." You know I was certainly excited because I ran right into a big mud my nice jeans and dressy shoes...I hate dirt/mud! Then we grabbed his bags, helped the other guys locate their bags, and we finally left the base around 10pm. I ended up taking the next day off from school. I needed a day to spend with my husband. It was a very long day for both of us and we were happy to be back with each other.

My in-laws came the first weekend of Feb to spend some time with their son. We had a great time going to the beach, going to the shooting range, and eating good home-cooked food. They left on Tuesday morning and we have been slowly trying to get back into some sort of routine. Dave has been on leave so he hasn't had to work, at least not for the USMC. I left him a list of chores each day that he needed to do. (His seabags had been located in the living room for a week at this point, partially unpacked...HUGE mess in an already small living room.)

This past weekend we were supposed to have our DC friends come visit, "The Martins", but traffic out of the city was worse than normal and they ended up not coming. It turned out alright though because we have spent a lot of quality "Wizzel-Bivins" time, which has been much needed. Today is the three year anniversary of the "Airport Rendezvous Weekend". We celebrate this day instead of Valentine's day for a few reasons. #1 I'm not big on Valentine's day because I don't think you need to prove your love by spending a ridiculous amount of money on something that has had its' price inflated for this one day. #2 It's a day for flower shops, restaurants, jewely stores, and card stores to make a lot of money and they're super crowded. #3 The first year we were "talking on the phone" (dating) we couldn't be together for V-day, but I flew to DC for President's Day wknd because we could have some extra time since he had an extra day off work. The night of my arrival was the 18th because I flew out on a Friday afternoon. It was the first time we would see each other since we started talking (we had supposedly met before at Bootcamp graduation, but don't remember this very well). We both knew this weekend would be "make it or break it" time for our relationship, but were confident that it would cement the fact that we were serious about each other. We gave each other a huge hug at the airport and that was the beginning of the weekend that would alter our lives in ways we couldn't have imagined. Today we are celebrating three years together since that crazy, wonderful weekend. We're being lazy, staying in our pj's, watching movies and listening to the rain outside. We plan to get "dolled up" and go out to dinner at our favorite restaurant here in J-ville, Duck's. We're in Love, yeah it's great.