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I am so proud of my son!!  In July he took the brave step of joining the armed forces and has just undergone basic training, where the young men are turned from greenhorns into soldiers – not an easy job, I’m sure!!  I know it has been gruelling for them all, and each has had to deal with their own individual doubts, home sickness, panics and depressions.  Some inevitably drop out – and that is both to their benefit and the army’s.  Kudos to those who try it and realise that they are not cut out for that job!  It takes courage to make that decision.  (I know, for one, that I wouldn’t be able to hack being told what to do!!!!)

The training they have received has been from instructors who have all served in active millitary zones, so they know what they are talking about.  They know when it is important to show initiative, and also when it is vital to do as you’re told immediately, without hesitation.  They’ve been tested on the ethics and morality of killing – they’ve had to make difficult decisions about life and death that most of us will hopefully never have to face in our lives.  Some pay the price, losing life or limb(s) fighting for things that politicians back home have decided on, whatever the rights and wrongs of it.  They have to put their personal and political feelings aside and do the job.  For many this comes back to haunt them in later times, and both they and their families have to be aware of that.

At the passing out parade (and one poor soldier took that phrase literally!!), the sense of pride of the relatives of the new soldiers was palpable.  The tremendously high standards of drill from the soldiers was unbelievable to watch – just 14 weeks earlier, none of them knew what to do, and now they are totally together, working as a team.  Stunning.  They have been through tough mental and physical challenges to get them to this standard, and now they will go off to do their respective trade training and be challenged further.  They have been on exercise in horrendous weather conditions, they have learned to take care of themselves, their equipment and each other, and they have learned to pool their resources and support each other.

In the relaxed atmosphere after the parade, it was wonderful to see the sense of achievement in the men themselves.  They all wore their uniforms with pride – they had earned them!  They were the centre of attention of each of the family groups – they felt so special and valued.  Now, as they go off on their different paths, each of them has a fundamental self-belief that they have faced what was thrown at them and succeeded.  Some of them will never have experienced this feeling of self-worth before, and what a treasure it is.

As a mother of a new soldier, I feel so much pride, tempered with the knowledge that he will face extreme danger in the future, but strong in the understanding that, whatever the outcome, this is his life’s choice, taken willingly and knowing what could happen in the future.  He has found his vocation and what more could any mother ask for her child?