These are the size-13 boots of a citizen soldier.
The new boots of a young National Guard enlistee who swore to support and defend the constitution of America from its enemies, both foreign and domestic. The kind of enemies that showed up yesterday and rocked our world. A world of thousands of Americans, runners, families, and spirited well-wishers who had no idea of the evil awaiting at the Boston Marathon finish line yesterday. Who could imagine such a horrific scene? Who can imagine possible copycat tragedies? Fortunately, so many citizens, police, and other first responders passionately helped including 460 National Guard troops from Massachusetts, and some from other states, increasing to 1,000 today.
These unblemished boots were left on the floor after Easter breakfast with my parents. I asked Chris (my foster son) to wear his new uniform to show my parents and to encourage retired veterans. I thought an 18-year-old machine gunner-to-be could salute my father, an 87-year-old WWII tail gunner. We smiled and laughed, and Chris received a free breakfast at the Red Apple restaurant. It was March 31.
Today is April 16. Chris' Illinois National Guard unit is on alert to respond to the scene of the bombing tragedy if Boston's Governor, Deval Patrick, asks.
Chris wouldn't go to Boston because he has not finished basic training. His boots have only marched a few miles through a forest preserve (loose strings may have been a cause of an ankle sprain.) This summer, however, they will stomp loudly at "boot camp" (an old military slang term for recruit camp, recruits with boots that look like new.)
In a few months, these boots won't look new at all. They'll be marked up a bit--broken in.
And Chris will do his part to serve, like my father, no matter what enemies, domestic or foreign show up in the future.
I am so grateful for our military servicemen and women serving at home and away, and for America's veterans. I am so glad for the Army National Guard, designed to serve in war, and also in case of national tragedies.
My thoughts and prayers go out for everyone in Boston, especially for those participating in the marathon who have experienced tragic loss and harm.
Tags: Army National Guard, basic training, boot camp, Boston, Boston Marathon bombing, Easter, Governor Deval Patrick, machine gunner, MAssachusetts NAtional Guard, military boots, protect AmericaNational Guard, recruits, Red Apple Restaurant, tail gunner, veterans, WWII veteran