My blessings multiply

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dear readers, I hope you'll forgive me this week for doting on a couple of important people in my life.

First is my youngest son, Ryan, who at this exact moment is probably being screamed at by a man in a broad-brimmed hat and a very bad mood.

Ryan is in his third week of boot camp at U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Although he is still nearly four weeks shy of his 18th birthday, he is undergoing what has been described as the most intense basic training regimen of any of America's armed services.

Ryan knew what he was getting into: His older brother, Ronnie, went through boot camp in San Diego four years ago. A photo from Ronnie's basic training graduation shows the two of them side-by-side, with Ryan looking just like you would expect a baby brother to look standing next to a newly minted Marine.

We'll get the two of them together for an updated version of that photo in a couple of months. My guess is this time, Ryan won't look so much like a baby brother.

I'm proud of both my sons for their courage and commitment, but I'm especially proud of Ryan today. Because of his late August birthday, he was nearly a year younger when he shipped out to boot camp than Ronnie was when he left. A year can make a big difference when you're talking about the difference between 17 and 18 and a challenge as difficult as USMC basic training.

Before he could leave for boot camp, Ryan first had to pass an initial fitness test at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Kansas City, Mo. Ironically, the standards he had to meet in Kansas City were more stringent than those he will have to meet to graduate from boot camp. That's because the folks at MEPS don't want to send a recruit to San Diego only to have him fail.

It took Ryan three tries to pass the fitness test. First, he didn't complete enough pull-ups. On the second try, the pull-ups were fine but he didn't meet the requirement of 60 crunches in two minutes. On his third attempt, facing the possibility of being released if he failed again, Ryan passed the test. He shipped out to San Diego the same day.

I'm more proud of my son for persevering, for digging deep inside himself to find the strength to do what he needed to do to achieve his dream, than I would be had he aced the fitness test on the first try. No one succeeds 100 percent of the time in life; the measure of a man is how he responds to failure. Ryan didn't give up on himself or his dream, and I can't wait to shake his hand in mid-October on the parade grounds in San Diego and tell him just how proud I am.

The second person I'd like to dote on just a bit is actually someone I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting: my grandson, William Edward "Liam" Loftis. Liam is expected to make his first public appearance on or about Dec. 4, and I'm doing my best to wait patiently. I know Ronnie and his fiancee, Christi, will be great parents, and I can't wait to be a grandfather.

The last few months of 2015 are going to be very eventful for my growing family. I am blessed.

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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.