Our American Hero
Chantal Joaquin-Starrett | September 13, 2018 @ 12:00 AM
In select times of life, every once in a while, we are privileged to realize the greatness who walk among us. Individual heroes we don’t even know about or recognize at first glance. Today, I am privileged, and honored to know such a young man. A true American hero.
I have worked with Caleb here at StorPlace Self-Storage in Murfreesboro for about 2 years. I know him to be a hard worker, an honest man, integrative, generous, brave, friendly, funny, personable, strong, willing, respectful, disciplined, confident & compassionate. To mention a few of his attributes.
About 3 months ago, having been at the receiving end of this incredible young man’s generosity and talents, and having fallen in love with he and his wife… adopting them as if they are my own, Caleb turned in his leave of absence notice at StorPlace Self-Storage as he was to attend Officer training at Quantico. I was heartbroken, scared and proud all rolled up into one.
How could I possibly stop this beautiful soul, good Christian kid from going back into the Marines?! Wasn’t his prior 5 years of service enough?! For the first time in my life I was given a glimpse of what an actual parent must go through when their young spread their wings to fly. All manner of fear fled through the fibers of my being… what if something happens to him?! But Caleb, for all the aforementioned attributes, is a man who will always answer his call to God and country. It is who he is. He is a true hero.
In my life I have been proud to be an American. From little up, I was taught to respect the American flag. In school we stood to Pledge our Allegiance to the flag, and when the National Anthem plays, you stand, hand over heart and sing. I can’t help myself, even at home if the Star Spangled Banner plays on TV, I stop what I’m doing, hold my hand over my heart and my eyes tear up. I attempt to stop and thank any military person I see, whether at the airport while traveling or in a grocery store randomly passing in their uniform. I try to look them square in the eye, as I thank them, and shake their hand to let them know I am sincere.
I remember our high school band honoring all Veterans one night at one of our Friday night football games. First called to stand, were all those who served in the U.S. Army and as they stood, our school band played beautifully “The Army goes Rolling Along” as the song ended and the Army took their seats, the band instructor asked for all the Navy to stand, and the band then performed “Anchors Aweigh”; and then once again for all the Marines to stand up, and the “Marines Hymn” then played, again beautifully.
My father had served in the United States Air Force. I can’t begin to explain the lump in my throat, or the swelling pride beating in my young heart when I saw the tears in my father’s eyes well up, as he arose for his turn and “Off we go into the Wild Blue Yonder, Climbing High into the Sun…” played loudly and proudly. My Dad was a Master Sergeant, and an Aeronautical engineer who helped rebuild Japan after WW2.
The view of our military took a change in my life that night, I had, to that point, been taught to be a proud American, that night I became a proud American. I was so very proud of my Dad standing there among his fellow comrades. It was a night I will never forget. My father to this little girl, was a hero. He passed away in 2001. And although I still reflect back to that high school football stadium, it had been a long time since “real” awakened my heart.
But Caleb volunteering for perhaps the most strenuous, demanding and stressful 10 weeks, of endurance, physical agony and conditioning was heroic, and made my heart swell. He set off to Quantico for training to become an officer in the United States Marine Corps. While there, he became the Candidate Platoon Commander and unsurprising to those who know him, he finished in the top 10 percentile of his class. In the next year, after finishing the last of his courses for his degree in Aviation Maintenance Management at Middle Tennessee State University, Caleb will reenter as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
I am given the privilege to work side by side, at StorPlace Self-Storage in Murfreesboro, with Caleb, as he works and goes to school. And just as I had a glimpse of what a parent goes through in fear, watching their young spread their wings to fly, with a lump of pride in my throat, one day I will have the view of this humble young man as he spreads his wings and I will watch him sore.