What a great weekend!
Friday night after grocery shopping (which I really dislike to do!) I rounded the corner of our street, and was thrilled to see that Private First Class Ryan Slechta had arrived home from boot camp. He was standing in the yard with his dad. The two men were standing side by side, tall and proud sharing a moment.
Just 6 weeks ago Ryan was a 17 year old kid. He elected not to graduate with his class at OHS, but to enlist with the Marines and invest in his future. He turned 18 while at boot camp.
Let me tell you, just seeing Ryan standing so tall, so proud made me proud to be his neighbor. Ryan has always been one of my favorite kids on the block. He beat to his own drum, and has charm and personality. Unfortunately that drum did not always produce an acceptable beat for society. Going in the the Marines was a great choice for Ryan.
I parked and got out of the car, intending to cross the street and welcome Ryan home. By the time I closed my car door and turned around, Ryan was standing in front of me. I cried. He carries himself with a pride that I have not seen him have since he was much younger. He carries himself with dignity. His voice is confident.
Yesterday the entire neighborhood got together to celebrate Ryan. It was a wonderful afternoon. Ryan dressed in full uniform and cover to greet each new arrival to the party. Not a single one of us moms were dry eyed. Our teen aged girls were misty eyed too. The boys were in awe (for about 42 seconds, then they became normal again.)
Ryan became choked up when he gave his thanks to his parents for there love and support. He apologized to several of the neighbors for his previous youthful discretion. Two of Ryan's recruiters were able to attend the party, and he thanked them for giving him this wonderful opportunity to make a difference in his own life.
Ryan will be leaving for Camp Pendelton in 8 days. I can not wait to see how his life begins to unfold and see the journey he'll be making with pride and confidence.
I was honored to be a part of this wonderful celebration of this adult that I have watched grow from child to man.