May 27, 2013

The Long Gray Line

Before Brad left for West Point's 'Beast' boot camp, he gave me a CD to listen to while he was away. "All My Loving" by Jim Sturgess {listen here!} from the movie Across the Universe was track number one. There were many lonely days that I listened to it on repeat more times than was probably healthy. I wrote to Brad every single day as our only form of communication, and he still has a hard time expressing how much those letters meant to him. Our relationship was still so new at that point, but there was no denying we were falling in love.

Track number one again played on repeat for me recently, but this time silently in my head. As I waited for the commencement ceremony for the United States Military Academy Class of 2013 to begin, a wave of nostalgia hit me. As I sat in the freezing rain in my bright red poncho and rain boots I had begrudgingly worn rather than my adorable planned sundress (yes, the weather was that bad), I thought about the lyrics, what they meant to me then, and what they mean to me now. Four years have come and gone, and so much has happened! I was accepted to and graduated from nursing school, we adopted two kittens, I moved to New York. We traveled together to Key West, Las Vegas, Boston, San Francisco, Alaska, and France. We watched Michigan State win a lot and Army lose a lot of football games (sorry love, couldn't resist). We both said goodbye to our childhood homes as our parents moved on to bigger and better things. Brad asked a big question, and I said yes. A lot can happen in four years, just to name a few.

And now we can add one very big one to the list. Brad has joined the long gray line as a West Point graduate. He is now a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army and will join the 36th Engineer Brigade at our first duty station, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

One thing that did stay the same as Brad journeyed from lowly plebe to officer rank was love. The love we share, love from our families, and love from new and old friends alike. Just as my daily letters got Brad through boot camp and a silly love song helped me survive, it is because of all of the love in our lives that we celebrated a very big accomplishment in rainy Michie Stadium on May 25th together. The weather of graduation day, although a bummer, did not dampen the happiness of the graduates, family, and friends one single bit. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise to hide the tears of joy that fell like waterworks down my cheeks as I got that much anticipated first hug on the field.

To 2LT Witt: Okay, okay. I guess you can take some of the credit. Maybe it wasn't entirely love that got you to graduation day. I suppose a good deal of late nights, physical challenges, hard work, and lessons learned in leadership were necessary on your part too. For some odd reason I expected you to come out of the barracks for the big reveal in your new officer's uniform as a different person. Much to my delight, you are the same exact guy I fell in love with four years ago, just with a spiffy new get-up and admirable title and career to match. You earned this, and I could not possibly be more proud of you. In fact, watching you graduate and commission was the proudest moment of my life so far. Choosing to serve our country in a time of conflict and uncertainty speaks volumes of your selflessness and courage. No matter where Army life takes us from here, together or far apart, know that I am always right beside you. You have "all my loving," always.

From R-Day...

West Point would post pictures of the new cadets every day during boot camp. My summer was spent in a tiny cubicle in the call center at Whirlpool Corporation. Needless to say, I spent many hours scouring their website searching for a familiar face in a sea of soldiers. Here is what I found... Graduation Day!  

As captured by the photojournalism queen (who we are blessed to call our dear friend), Jill Knight of Jillography
We are forever grateful to you for giving us the gift of such awesome and emotion-packed pictures.
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