“Have you told your sisters?” I heard my mom ask Brad as I walked past their conversation.
“No, not yet, when do you want me too?” He responded back
“Uh…” I mumbled as I walked into our family room where my two older sisters were sitting.
“What?” Kara asked me.
“Brad has something to tell us, I just over heard mom and him talking” Right than both my parents and Brad walked into the room.
“So uh…well um…I have joined the Marines” Brad told us three girls.
Instantly tears welled up in my eyes and they began trailing down my face. He would be going active, which meant as soon as training was over, he could go to Iraq at any time. Knowing my brother would be facing war scared me.
“I leave February 25th, about a month after Kara goes on her mission,” He continued to say.
After a about a week of that family conversation you could see the fear in Brad’s eyes. He struggled with the thought of leaving. He didn’t feel right about that decision so he decided to wait. He wasn’t leaving in January. He was going to wait until later in the year. I had hoped in the back of my mind that he wouldn’t go, and he would change his mind, but I never did share this thought with anyone. I wanted to be supportive of his decision.
The time came when made up his mind for sure. It just happened, I don’t remember having a family talk about it this time. It was just he’s leaving soon. He wouldn’t tell me the date. He didn’t want to make a big deal about it. I later found out from my parents and than he did tell me. He would be leaving September 15, 2008, a Monday morning.
As September approached, his date got pushed back a week, for whatever reason. I just knew I had one week more to spend with my future Marine brother. As a family we spent a lot of time together three weeks before he left. We had dinners, family came over, his friends came over. It was definitely a hard thought knowing the goodbye was coming.
September 22, 2008, I said goodbye to my brother for 13 weeks. He would be going to basic training in San Diego, other wise know as hell. No one would love him and care for him like my family had. He would be going to sleep at 11:30ish and waking up at 4:30. He would have five minutes to get dressed and everything else needed in the morning time. He would be screamed at. He would be working at full speed 24/7.
I didn’t realize how hard saying goodbye to him would be. We never got along growing up. He was the older brother, I was the annoying little sister. We weren’t suppose to get along. I was wrong. I had the hardest time. As my family piled into the car to drop him off the Sunday afternoon. I wanted to vomit. I couldn’t bare the thought of not seeing my brother. Of no one loving him and caring for him. The drill instructors had to break them down, to build them up as we would say. The ride down was silent. No one wanted to say anything. We just needed time to cope with the emotions. We arrived at the Marine office in Provo, and the time came for me to say goodbye.
“Brad, I am so proud of you, I couldn’t be more proud,” I whispered into his ears as I gave him a hug, a rare thing. “I love you with all my heart, dude! Give them a hard time, and work your butt off!”
“Be good, don’t drive mom and dad crazy. It will go by fast,” He said with a little hesitation, like he didn’t know if it would go by fast at all.
Tears streaming down my face as I watched him say goodbye to my sister, Lynsey then my dad, and last my mom. I saw the courage and strength in his eyes. The determination to make his family and country proud was all there.
He slowly walked toward the van with the driver telling, who was also a Marine that everything would be okay. He would come back a man of honor. He got in and looked back, help up a peace sign and said goodbye once more.
“Bye BRAD!!” I screamed, but had little voice as I was still crying. “He’s gone” I said as I looked to my sister.
“Yep, our brother, going to be a Marine” Lynsey said to me.
“Well,” my dad started to say, “Lets go home.”
We came as five and left as four. The drive home was worse than the one there. Not having my brother at home would be hard. Who would protect me? Who would tease me and give me crap? No one, I would be the only child at home, as Lynsey didn’t live at home.
The rest of the day was like a funeral day at my house. We didn’t answer the phone. I turned my phone off. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just sat in my bed, and cried. I was worried beyond belief about my brother.
The next day was just as bad. I got to school and I saw my friend gathered around. Each one looked at me and asked how I was, and I lost it.
“He’s gone, Brad’s gone” He left yesterday. I said as my eyes started to water up, and than a single tear fell down my face.
That day on channel one, there was a special on the troops. On the school announcements they played the National Anthem and said the Pledge of Allegiance. As I said the Pledge, I got shivers down my spine. This is what my brother was all about. Protecting our freedom, our country, and our homes. At that moment, the Pledge was different for me. I had never actually thought about what I was saying. This time I did. I thought of all those that have gone into any military force.
As the days went on, and we got more and more letters from Brad he sounded more grown up each time. He was struggling, and was very home sick, but he knew he couldn’t let his country down and he continued on with the hard work. About a month into everything he got pneumonia. He was on bed rest for one day. If I was him, I’d be on the first plane back home. He got over it and returned to duty. He has gotten most of the high scores through out the different tasks he is instructed to do. He has never once given up. He is my ultimate hero. Knowing my brother is one of “The Few, The Proud, The Marines” makes me grin from ear to ear.
The day before Thanksgiving, the phone rang, and on the other end was Recruit Lawrence, it was my B-rad. It was the first time I had heard his voice in 10 weeks. I started to cry with joy.
“I love you Brad!” I told him
“I love you too, Anne” He exclaimed back to me.
That was the first time I have ever really heard my brother say I love you to me. My heart melted. I couldn’t believe the person he had become.
On December 19th 2008 my brother graduated from basic training, and would be coming home that day. I got to call him a Marine an official Marine. Lynsey and myself were not able to go to the graduation with our parents due to school and work. But that night, it was a Friday we were going to the airport. We would great our brother for the first time in 13 weeks. The excitement was overwhelming. The entire day it was snowing and the flights from everywhere had been delayed multiple times. Brad and my parents were suppose to arrive in Salt Lake City at 7:30. We were going to go out to dinner and spend the night as a family, something that hasn’t been done in a very long time.
“Annie, the flight has been delayed, it doesn’t get in till 10 now. We can still go to the airport or just wait for them here. What do you want to do?” Lynsey asked me.
“You’re kidding right? I still want to go to the airport. I have to see him, I’m so done waiting!” I stated to her.
Just than the phone rang, it was my daddy. Lynsey talked to him for what seemed like forever. When she hung up the phone she looked at me and said “Are you ready? Lets go see our Marine!”
“There plane is leaving right now, lets go see our brother!”
“Woo woo woo!” I shouted!
I grabbed my coat and rushed out to Lynsey’s car and off we went. I had been waiting for 13 weeks to have this moment, to be going to the airport to see my Marine brother.
Just as we arrived to the airport, we got a call from my daddy again. There plane didn’t take off. It was just than. We now had to wait in the terminal for the entire flight plus the time it takes to get off the plane.
“Ugh!! Can we just see him already?” I complained to Lyns.
“I know, I know” She said.
Even though they were flying from San Diego, that wait seemed like years. I didn’t know if it would ever end. I had only thought about seeing my brother for the first time, and now it was happening, well soon.
Time passed, slowly, but it did pass. Lynsey and Myself stood up and stared at the stairs coming from the gates. We kept seeing young men and women dressed in camo, but no it couldn’t have been my brother.
I wasn’t paying attention when Lynsey slapped me and pointed to the top of the stairs. Standing there in uniform and very skinny was my brother. Instantly shivers went up and down my spine and just down pour of tears. He came down the stairs and held out his arms.
“Welcome home Brad, you look amazing!” I told him
He was so serious. A grown up. As we walked to the baggage claim, the other people in the terminal started clapping and looked at him with such gratitude and told him thank you. Hearing the thank yous from those people was heart warming. They were thankful for his sacrifice. Not as thankful as myself though. No way.
Brad acted with such respect and with such dignity. They had taken a 19 year old boy with no real responsibilities and turned him into a gentleman, and he was my brother.
Having a brother serving in the military has been very humbling for me.
No one will understand how important freedom is to me now. How proud I am to say, my brother is defending our country. My brother is a member of the United States Marine Core! OORAH!
as the fourth of july is approaching, i thought this would be appropriate to share, i wrote this as a sophomore for a writing assignment. it's something that i am very proud of.