Friday, December 17, 2004

The Touch of The Drill Sergeant's Hand

I'm taking a little poetic license here. I just came across an old poem called "The Touch of the Master's Hand" by Myra Brooks Welch and I've adapted it to the drill sergeant. It's hokey, but I had fun playing with it. Enjoy!


He was scrawny and scared, and the Brigadier
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the young recruit
And he tried to suppress a smile.
“What do you reckon, good folks,” he cried,
“How long will he last, let’s see?”
"One week, one week”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two weeks, and who’ll make it three?
Three weeks, once; three weeks twice’
Going for three---” But no,
From the room, far back, a stern man came
and circled the greenhorn, slow.
Then shaking the dust from the young recruit
and training him night and day,
In nine short weeks he created a man,
A soldier in every way.

The training ceased and the Brigadier,
With a voice that was quiet and older,
Said “Now what do you think of this young recruit?”
And he stood tall next to the soldier.
“A decade he’ll last,” “and who’ll make it two?”
“Two decades!” “And who’ll make it three?
Three decades, once, three decades, twice,
and going and gone.” said he.
The people cheered, and some parents cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed his worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a drill sergeant’s hand.”

And many a boy with life out of tune,
And battered by the high school brute
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like this young recruit.
A “toke of pot,” a glass of wine;
A game - and he travels on.
He is “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the drill sergeant comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the drill sergeant’s hand.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Who Is That Man Wearing Sprout's Skin?

My son is now a soldier. The graduation ceremony was quick and powerful . Hearing six hundred-plus young soldiers recite the Soldier's Creed in unison sent chills down my spine, especially that last line "I am an American soldier" which I could swear made the ground shake on that parade field.

It stormed most of the night before graduation and we were afraid the ceremony would have to be held indoors, which is a bummer because then the troops don't have much room to march and watching them march is an experience in itself. But, we serve a mighty God and he pushed all the storms out by daybreak and left us with a cool breeze and clear blue skies. I might guess that he was proud of our soldiers too.

Sprout looks great and was mighty glad to see us. He had lots of stories to tell. We met some of his friends and spent the day eating french fries and ice cream and exploring Fort Jackson. Sprout was as interested as we were since he had spent most of his nine-weeks in the training area and rarely (if ever) got to see the better side of Fort Jackson. He was surprised to find out there was a Burger King on base. The trip to the PX was fun watching all the new soldiers with their families. They were all so sharp and proud looking. One really touching moment was when we walked into a crowded mini-mall and saw a family standing around a soldier who sat on a bench awe...into the eyes a new-born child he held on his lap, a look usually assigned to new fathers in hospital settings, not mini-malls. But he didn't seem to mind at all.

The one thing I notice about all these young soldiers is the confidence they all have. They seem to walk tall and have an air of self-assurance about them. You almost know that very few of them will not succeed in whatever they attempt to do. Sprout is different too. His words are clearer, his good manners are second nature now. Just seeing him take his hat off each time we entered a building and put it back on each time we came out was a treat. What young man in society does that anymore? It is these simple things that set a soldier apart from the rest of us and make them so special. He opened doors for us ladies and said no, he wasn't instructed to do that specifically, he has just been trained to always do what is right. While these are things I have thought to teach him myself, I guess it never seemed so important before. It is important to him now. Thank you Uncle Sam.

I will post pictures here next week, after we have safely wisked him away from the worst and best place he has ever visited. I hope one day the things he has learned will serve to save the lives of him and those around him.

And you can call him MISTER Sprout.

Monday, December 06, 2004

It's Almost Over

We leave in two days to head to Basic Training Graduation...and I thought high school graduation was exciting, HA! Sprout has passed every test they have thrown at him with flying colors. My pride is bursting at the seams. We expected a call yesterday (Sunday is the normal "call-home" day) but when it didn't come, I began to worry. The Good Lord is testing my patience. All day today I was antsy wondering why he didn't call. Is he hurt? Did he go postal during the last field training exercise after eating one-too-many MRE's? What? Why didn't he call? I even thought that maybe his platoon didn't do so good and was being punished. I was to the point of calling his company to find out if he would graduate or not. Boy, he woulda loved that. But finally, late today he called his sweetheart. She immediately called me and now I can finally sleep well again.

He said he had met all his requirements and was ready to graduate. He said it rained during the campout and was cold but he survived it. He also said that the drill sergeants have suddenly turned back into the monsters they were during the first couple of weeks, screaming and yelling a lot. And I was right, it was the drill sergeants messing with their minds yesterday not letting them call home. But he is done, and in a few days he will come home for Christmas and it will be a joyous Christmas. This will be the first year I think that I have had something really good to look forward to at Christmas. A REAL reason to be thankful.

It's funny...six months ago Dad and I were the two dorkiest people on Earth. Now, Sprout can't wait to see us. All of the sudden he misses these two old dorks. Well, maybe we are dorks, but we are his dorks and he is our soldier and he has done a most honorable thing. I have more respect for this child than I do for most men I know. And I will never call him "baby" again. He is a man and I am a most proud mother.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Well, whatdaya know? Uncle Sam finally came through with a paycheck. That's mighty nice of him. I reckon they pay these young folks about a penny per push-up. Well, at least it takes the sting out of basic training...a little. Now, let me get out that Sears Wishbook and see what I want for Christmas. Oh joy!!