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Our oldest daughter left for 9 weeks of Army training in South Carolina today. The send off was bittersweet. I am weepy and happy for her at the same time. The thought of her in harm’s way keeps me awake at night, but a career in the Army is something she’s wanted since she was 10-years-old.

After South Carolina, she will attend the Monterey Language Institute for a year for total immersion in learning a language. She doesn’t know which language yet, but she is hoping for Arabic or Chinese.

Her sense of duty to the country and desire to serve is strong. I’m not sure where it comes from. It isn’t as though we say the Pledge of Allegiance at the dinner table every night. I admire her passion and commitment more that words can express.

How did she know she wanted to be in the Army? While on vacation in New York City when she was 10, my brother-in-law suggested a day trip to West Point for a picnic and to take in the fall colors. The day was glorious and as we walked across the campus and she said, “This is what I want to do with my life.”

As a senior in high school, she considered applying to West Point but decided she wanted a traditional college experience. So fifteen years later, she is following her dream and is now a soldier.

Please keep her, as well as all our soldiers, in your thoughts and prayers.

I’m proud to be an American and I am proud of our daughter. Be safe honey.