Change of Command Dinner and Parents Day 2016
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Message from the Chaplain:
Tonight, I was privileged to attend my second Parents Day and Change of Command Dinner since becoming a unit parent volunteer for Capital Area Young Marines. I will soon be attending my second boot camp with the unit.
These events are always emotional in nature for me because I have come to regard the youth in our unit as an extended family. CO Perez expressed that for all of us tonight, as he gave his speech at the commencement of the formal part of the evening. I know I speak for each of our parent volunteers and unit leaders when I say that we take the ability to be a part of the growth experience of our youth as a sacred honor.
As we watch our youth move from being shy, quiet, sometimes timid kids to strong, assertive leaders; we see in them a hope for the future of the country. As our youth become young adults and grow into positions of service within the military, go to expand their already keen minds at college, or move into positions as leaders in the private sector; we know that they go with a firm foundation.
All of our parent volunteers should be proud to know that the small influences they have on our kids by simply being willing to serve a meal, assist in teaching a class, or assist with a camp out; you have been a part of the future. Tonight was also a night of celebration of their service. Our mothers and lady volunteers were given an award of appreciation and certificates were presented in thanks of service. My wife and I were honored to receive one of those.
Some of our youth also received their official certificates of rank from their last promotion and one of our young ladies was formally pinned with ranks. I have been able to watch many of our young people move from graduating at boot camp, to achieving new rank, and from getting new rank to graduating completely.
I admit that when it came to the formal change of command ceremony; I became emotional. It is like watching your adopted children move on and move away. Each of them has in one way or another been a part of our lives. This crop of graduates in particular was part of a three year journey for me and for my son. Each of them was a leader and a mentor to him in some fashion.
I know that as I grow with the unit and watch the new crop of leaders emerge, I will have gotten more accustomed to my role in their lives and might just have learned to keep my chin from bobbing and eyes from watering as they move on. This time, I have roughly two years to find out. I look forward to continuing my association with these young people.
I will not say goodbye, because I have a hunch that our graduates will return as volunteers for the unit as part of their transition to full adulthood, just as a few of our current volunteers have done. What I will say is: Good luck to each of you in your new endeavors. Thank you for letting me walk with you on part of your journey. And congratulations to our newest crop of youth commanders and ranking NCOs. I look forward to walking beside you as you move forward.