On Saturday, I woke up at 6:30 am out of the excitement of the day. My wife, Sheryl, and I drove our son Steven's pickup truck from Alameda, California to the Marine Combat Training Center at 29 Palms, California. He purchased the truck from his grandfather (Paw Paw) who passed away in June. The truck was Paw Paw's pride and joy. We departed at 9:00 am and arrived at 5:00 pm. Our GPS directed us on a route that avoided the traffic in Los Angeles which allowed us to see a part of the California we had not seen before.
Earlier in the day, Steven had been in contact with us. He and his fellow Marines had flown from Afghanistan, where they had been fighting for the last 7 months, to Kurdistan, to Germany, to Maine, to Riverside, California. His group of 220 returning Marines then took a bus to 29 Palms. They turned in their weapons, got assigned dorm rooms, and then were turned over to waiting relatives. The turnover was supposed to happen between 9:30 pm to 10:30 pm but did not actually happen until 12:15 am. The family reunions happened at a baseball field on base. Unfortunately, the lights were on a timer that automatically turned them off at midnight. It was a long wait but worth it.
Sheryl and I couldn't help but notice the rather large collection of small children who waited with us. Many of them had signs attached to their strollers like "Believe it or not, I will be hugging my Dad for the first time." Shortly after being reunited, one 2-year-old was being carried by her returning Marine when she asked "Dad, do you remember me?" So although the 7-hour wait seemed like an eternity for us, the price for war is far higher for the little ones, and even more so for those whose loved ones did not return.
Fortune is alive in the lab.