Friday was the call to duty / mobilization ceremony for my cousin Steve. Usually when introducing one another we just say sister and brother. It just seems more appropriate since cousin denotes distance and brother - closeness. But anyways...., it was with mixed emotions I attended the ceremony. A part of me swelled with pride while the other half cowered in fear. As I saw the group of soldiers - dads, husbands, boyfriends, sons, and brothers march in I felt so much emotion. I managed control of the urges within me to scream, yell, cry. We were all safe in that high school here in the cozy US of A with our little symbols of freedom being waved freely. They our American soldiers were within reach. I could catch a glimpse of him down there on the third row. And, if I caught his eye and gave him some familiar goofy look he would gesture back, but he in a matter of hours he would be leaving. No longer in my grasp, out of view, away from the security of this great nation and on - head on to enemy territory. I know many are anticipating his arrival and he will be their hero, but the shadow of the enemy clouds my optimism. I took hold of the determination and grit displayed on so many of their faces - the least of which not being that of their commander. He, with a look that could stop you dead in your tracks - swore this troop was ready for their mission, they would be successful and meet us back here for the hero ceremony next January. I know he cannot guarantee the future, but everyone knew exactly what he was saying and that positivity and God's grace is just what is going to keep my head up and looking forward to the day he comes back to my house for cookies and lasagna. Until then, I'll be praying for him, Melissa and Taylor everyday and flying my flag a little higher as my freedom just became even more dear. I love you, brother. Come home safe.