Today I drove to Mt. Irenaeus for Mass.  It’s part of what I usually do nearly every Sunday. On the way I placed a call to my nephew Tom who’s a member of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard in Anacostia, DC. Earlier this week my brother called to let me know that Tom would be marching on Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday accompanying our new President. I wanted to call Tom and let him know how proud I am of him and that he would be in my prayers and that I hoped he would be able to stay warm despite the bitter cold that grips the east coast of our nation.  I left my message on his voice mail and continued to drive to the Mountain.

My trip this morning was a bit more exciting than normal because the road to Mt. Irenaeus was not completely plowed and my little PT Cruiser couldn’t quite make the final hill on the first try. I decided to back down the hill and wait for my friend Duane Karl who has a four-wheel drive pickup. After backing down the hill and getting my car parked on Weatherby Road I looked up and my guardian angel arrived in the person of a snow plow and sander for the Town of Wirt. The plow cleared the road and the sand provided the necessary traction for me to make the grade. Once I arrived I made my way to the chapel and Mass.  After Mass I turned my phone on and discovered that I had a nice message from Tom. He told me that he had been practicing for the inauguration and that he’d be carrying the California flag at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday afternoon.  My heart swelled with pride as I shared this news with the Friars and other guests.  I can’t think of Tom nor his part in the upcoming inauguration without becoming filled with pride and choked up a bit with emotion.

I did get home in time to see Tom on HBO. As with most of this historic event I watched it on my laptop computer.  I missed the first part of the show but saw the California flag at the end of the event and though I couldn’t see Tom I knew that he was up there. My daughter sat next to me and we both agreed that this was a special moment for us and especially for Tom.

Drilling out

Friday night as I sat waiting for dinner at Kabob Kafe in nearby Ellicottville, New York with my wife and daughter my Blackberry buzzed. I picked it up and looked and I had been “poked” on Facebook by my nephew, Tom Watkins. Tom was letting me know that he just “drilled out” of the U.S. Navy’s Ceremonial Guard. He graduated from Boot Camp in August and went right to Anacostia Annex in the District of Columbia. I don’t know too much about the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard other than it is a highly trained outfit. I kept a picture of Tom on my phone so that every time I opened it to use it I would remember to pray for him in this new assignment. He won’t graduate officially for another eleven days but he’s made the grade and we’re all very proud of him. I hope to speak with him soon.

Today is special for me too and each year I remember that I too graduated from Boot Camp at Great Lakes, IL on the 13th of October at 1300 hours from the 13th Battalion. I led graduation carrying the American flag in the color guard. Just last week I thought of my shipmates and how much I wished I had one more day with them to catch up. I miss them a great deal and the older I get the more I wish that we hadn’t lost contact.