Lou's parents, brother Jess and sister Corrie came down to spend the weekend and help us celebrate this momentous occasion- which we accomplished mostly by eating more food in 3 days than most people think possible, unless of course, they've been living with Louis John Crist. In which case, they just shake their heads and say,"You should have seen him eat........." and reminisce on the good ol' days when as a teenager he polished off 2 pizzas and 4 steaks at a single sitting. I like to tell unbelievers about our dating days. Lou would come for breakfast on his way to drill with the Guard. I'd cook him: 12 eggs, 4 sausages, 1/2 lb. bacon, and fried potatoes. He'd eat: 12 eggs, 4 sausages, 1/2 lb. bacon, and fried potatoes. After we got married and he didn't think each meal was going to be the last one I served him, he slowed down and began eating a more respectable amount of food. Now its typically: 5 eggs and 3 sausages. There are rarely any leftovers in our house.
Back to graduation~we went out to Victory Pond at 9am the morning of graduation. They actually didn't open the gate to allow seating in the bleachers until 9:30 but we were still "late" by some standards, as 50-60 people were already standing in line waiting. We bought all the possibly applicable Ranger gear we could at the "Ranger Sale" tent-which included mugs, t-shirts,bumper stickers, etc.etc.etc. (I've always enjoyed writing that ever since I saw Yul Brynner in "The King and I". ) At 10 am the show began-and what a show! The RIs put on their own hour-long version of Ranger School training, leaving out the starvation/sleep deprivation/bullying/16 mile road march sections-as it would make it far too boring and long.
Taking a ride down the zipline-piece of cake.
Afraid of heights? Try the 4 man helicopter lift.
Simple boat landing on the placid shores of Victory Pond. The students did this in the alligator/snake infested swamps of Florida.
Fighting over the last M(eals)R(eady to)E(at). It happens.
I didn't get a picture-but the most memorable part of graduation was the RI tossing a ball of C-4 into the graduation crowd, while simultaneously triggering an explosion behind the bleachers.....a bit of scrambling went on at that moment! Never mind that he had just finished explaining the properties of C-4. Lesson #147: C-4 must have both pressure and extreme heat in order to detonate. You can find this information and many more details about the modeling clay look-a-like by clicking the link.
And finally~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~the ceremony began! There were several military speakers, who all understood that the crowd was sitting patiently in 100 degree weather NOT because they expected to hear brilliant rhetoric, but because they were proud of their Ranger. Speaking of which-there is mine below with a BIG SMILE on his face!
So, in order to accommodate the families the speakers were short & sweet. And with that, the families were invited to come down to the field and pin on their soldier's Ranger tab. And away we all went-quite the melee as each of us were looking at 120 men dressed identically milling on the field. Name tapes are not helpful in crowds! I remember while Lou was away, every time I saw a blonde head in a uniform my heart jumped, until I remembered that the possibility of it BEING Lou was 0-100,000 (or however many blonde soldiers there are at Fort Benning at the moment).
Pinning was an emotional time for me-but some of the drama was taken out of the moment by the "pin" being an actual safety pin. Difficult to stick through a patch and uniform, I had to concentrate on not stabbing myself or Lou and thus saved myself the trouble of sobbing hysterically during the proceeding. Instead I think I just giggled hysterically. Much more mature response.
Wow! I'm so proud of Lou! The commander announced that only 22% of the men who started Ranger School completed it without recycling a phase. Lou was in that group. 30 lbs lighter, bug chewed and bitten, callused to the point of calluses between EACH toe, but alive and well and unhurt. And very thankful! We began the fattening of the calf immediately and as of today Lou is weighing in at 190 lbs. (he came back at 170) and sleeping like a baby as I write this!
Thank you dear friends for all your calls, prayers, and love that you showed during this time~its over now and we are thrilled to be back together again!
In the two weeks since graduation, I've traveled to and from Nebraska and Lou has been enrolled in Airborne School....I'm going to have to get busy updating you on life in July before August is over! Much love!