I think back to July when our son Jonathan was waffling on his National Guard commitment. He was confused, scared and frankly at a point in his life, that he needed some good mentoring. I recall a meeting, my wife, I and J had with Major Doug Houston. For two hours, Major Houston listened to J as he told his "side" of the story. How others had made him feel stupid in making a decision to join the military. J didn't think he was ready on so many levels. As a father, I knew different. And as a molder.....so did Major Houston. During this two hour session, I saw in Major Houston a man full of compassion. He wasn't short and to the point. He had the patience of Job. Through it all, he was molding. Helping our son make the right choice at the right time in his life....but most importantly, helping him make the choice himself.
Weeks later after J went off to Basic, I asked him a fatherly type question. "So how did everyone handle the first couple of days at Fort Knox? Anyone think they had made a bad decision?" Not missing a beat, he responded, " Oh yeah, we all did. And there were alot of tears". I got a chuckle out of that, and if I had let myself, it probably could have turned into a belly-laugh. It wouldn't have been a matter of laughing at J and his fellow soldiers, but laughing with them....knowing that this was all part of the process.
I wonder what their reaction would be today? When the graduation exercise ended there was a mad rush from all the families to see their sons. The image will forever be ingrained in my mind and in my wife's mind when we locked eyes with our son for the first time in 10 weeks. The change was.....was................was......I can't put one word to it. In mid-August, we had seen a young 18-year old off....and now he was a Man. A complete transformation. You could see it in his eyes, you could hear it in his speech and you could sense it in his walk. The morning after graduation, J texted to thank me for coming to his graduation and for being there at "the best day of his life". THE BEST DAY OF HIS LIFE. He might not taken the popular road according to his friends, but he took the right one.
|PV2 Jonathan Kelling|
I've tried numerous times and in different ways to thank Major Houston for what he did for our family that day. I'm not sure that he's ever said anything other than, "good" in his response before moving on to some other topic. I'm sure part of this nonchalance is that Major Houston sees his role as a good and faithful servant. And he is....and he is also transforming lives....as a molder of our young Men and Women helping them realize their dreams. And for that, you deserve a bigger than life Thank You, Sir!