Last night, I went to my brother’s high school commencement ceremony. It was at the Wolstein Center downtown.

Now, it was just like any other (boring) commencement ceremony. The superintendent spoke, the president of the school district, the salutatorian, the valedictorian. Fun speeches. Yea. That’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about one particular moment during the event.

The superintendent asked various groups to stand up to be recognized.
– the National Honors Society members
– those who had GPAs over 3.75
– a couple of other groups
– those who are enlisting in the military

Now, when he said the last group, about 5 kids stood up. The audience just went WILD (as well as they should’ve). But I felt my eyes tear up. I mean, it’s amazing that these kids are dedicating the next few years to serving our country. Simply amazing.

But today, I really thought about those kids. I mean, they’re kids. I knew this kid who went into the Navy. I saw him grow up (he’s a lil younger than me). He’s really close to the lady I work w/ (& share an office w/). So much so that he lived w/ her while he was in b/t residences, stored some of his stuff there when he went off to boot camp, & stays w/ her when he comes back into town. He’s a good kid. He always was (grew up in the midwest, w/ 11 brothers & sisters, small town kid); & he still is.

But he’s changed. When I knew him in his former life (as a college student, ages 20 to 23), he was ever the joke-ster. Very jovial, always laughing, ever the boy. I mean, make funny noises, do impressions, just very silly stuff. He’d walk into our office kinda like Kramer did with Jerry’s apt; throwing the door open & exclaiming something.

A couple of months ago, he came back to pick up some of his stuff that he’d left here & to visit. He’s much more subdued, mellow, reserved. He just has a serious look about him. His whole facial structure has changed. His jaw seems more square & he doesn’t have that constant goofy grin on his face. He’s matured; it seems like he’s aged into this much older man in the course of 8 months.

I was thinking about that; how the military turns children into men & women. I wonder how these new young kids will be in another 4 years.

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