Back from a remarkable trip, though tedious at the end on the drive straight through to come home. Traveling with three drivers is better than four in a usual sedan, as the added rest you can get stretching out in the back more than makes up for the added driving shift.
Points to remember:
The USMC will tell you to get there early for family day, to see your new Marine off for his motivational run early on the morning of Family Day. Chris's was canceled, so we sat and watched videos about boot camp for several hours while sitting in the bleachers before the ceremony started. Not a productive time, especially with young Emily along. Even if it hadn't been canceled, our arrival for the sendoff would have probably been unnoticed and purely symbolic.
You will want to "honor" your Marine by staying with him until the last minute of his liberty at 3pm. This will mean that you will also honor him by sitting in stuck traffic for up to an hour getting off Parris Island.
You will see improved young men (and women, when any of them are graduating) all around you while you are there, You can tell they are improved because you will see how their siblings are dressed and acting. It is inspiring, but it pays to remember that boot camp only removes about 50% of the jerk factor. Human beings being what they are - especially young ones - you cannot count on even the Marines to fix everything in 12 weeks. I didn't notice anything about Chris that disappointed me - it was all good. But the stories you will hear, and the warnings they will give you about how Marines will act on leave will remind you that the first goal of the USMC is to prepare them for the necessary tasks of war, and if they are still rude drivers, impatient, and prickly when not on duty that is less of an issue to the Corps. They want their Marines to make a good impression and act responsibly in all areas, but they have priorities in this. Many people who went into the Marines as quick-tempered jerks will always have a lot of that no matter how long they are in. The Corps improves that for its needs, and young men learn to take more responsibility, but it's not a cure-all for all character flaws.
But, man, is it improved.
When Chris started off boot camp racing from the bus to the yellow footprints while the DI's screamed at him, he said to himself "And so it begins" from Lord of The Rings. I couldn't have asked for better.
He looks good. He looks good in many ways.
He's going to be a driver after all, as he originally wanted, so they will be sending him to training in Missouri after he finishes his next section at Camp Lejeune.