In the summer of 2011, my family arrived in San Antonio, Texas. My brother, Anthony, was graduating Basic Training and becoming an Airman. We got to Lackland Air Force Base and stood in with the crowd where the graduates were going to participate in the “Airman Run.” This run is a victory celebration of the challenges overcome during Basic Training. They also sing marching songs. There was my mom, my dad, my little brother Nick, and my little sister Rose. We all wore gold colored t-shirts because that’s the color Anthony and his flight group were going to wear. We waited in the heat, sweating for about a half an hour before the run. We held a banner that had a gold trim that said, “Proud family of AMN Lambrechts, Anthony. Congratulations, We Love you.” Then on the bottom it said all of our names, “Dad, Mom, Catherine, Clara, Rose, Nicholas.”
Finally, men and women separated by flight, troop group, and color shirts started running down the track. The crowd cheered and waved their banners. Everyone had proud, happy faces. All the other groups ran past and the gold group was getting closer. We looked for Anthony, but they were running too fast to even recognize his face. They all looked alike with their same gold shirts, matching shorts, socks, and shoes. I kept my camera clicking and taking pictures, so that later when I looked over them, hopefully I would be able to have gotten a snapshot of him. I got that feeling when your heart is beating really fast because everyone is cheering and it was something you have never seen before.
After all the groups ran past, we all walked really fast to the bleachers so we could get a good spot. The next event taking place was the coin ceremony. We waited two hours for that ceremony to start. Everyone was hot and sweaty and the sun was beating. So we all went to the gift shop while my dad stayed and saved our seats. We went back to our seats and sat there waiting for a long time. Finally, the graduates started marching in nice clothes. They wore a light blue collared shirt, dark blue pants, belt, and hat. I spotted my brother right away and started taking pictures. They all marched like toy-soldiers, all men and women marching all at the same time. They marched straight towards to where we were sitting. I kept looking at Anthony, but he never looked at me. I had the feeling that he had to have glanced over here to see if we were here. They all stopped about 5 feet in front of us and stood still. Once every person was in their spot and stopped, everyone turned to the side. Now, we could only see the side of everyone’s face. During the ceremony, their military training instructor (MTI) gave each graduate a coin that meant that they have become and Airman. The coin said “Awarded on the occasion of becoming an airman. Integrity. Service. Excellence.” After that I zoned out. Next thing that happened was that I saw MTI’s carrying a woman out of sight. She passed out. Then I saw more and more MTI’s carrying other men and women out of sight. I got really worried because last thing I wanted to see was my brother fall to the ground. Someone around me said, “They are dropping like flies.”
The ceremony was about to end. The announcer said that we could hug our airman and spend some time with him but only on the Air Force base. The ceremony ended and I was the first one to run up to my brother. I stood there in front of him looking up at his face. This was the first time I had seen him in about two months. He smiled and I was waiting for him to hug me first. He didn’t, he looked down and started to smile. I smiled and hugged him so hard. My eyes filled up with tears as I tried so hard not to start bawling. I looked at Rose and since she saw me crying, she started crying too. Then we both started to laugh and cry at the same time. After our hugs and talking, we started walking to the car. We were all starving so we went to a pizza place. We talked and Anthony shared stories and details about what he did on the base. After that, we all went to tour the rooms where the airman sleeps. He showed his rolled up shirts and underwear, and he showed us his bed and how perfect they had to make it-with no wrinkles. After, we just drove around the base and then we dropped him off at his dorm.
Next day, we got up bright and early to get to the base again for the graduation of Basic Training. We got on a bus and the bus took us to the graduation field. We found good seats and waited. Graduation started, and the airmen marched out toward the middle of the field. All the men marched around the track as the Air Force Band played music. After that, they recited the Airman’s Creed and then the man on the podium said, “Welcome to the U.S. Air Force.” Everyone cheered, my mom started tearing up, and my heart was racing. We ran down the bleachers and went to go find Anthony in the big crowd of people. We hugged him again and then went on the bus back to our car. We then went off base and went to the hotel where we let him sleep for three or four hours. This way he got to catch up on sleep a little bit.
The next day was Sunday and we joined Anthony on base at a Catholic Church. Mass was really different and it was a good experience to participate in it. I’m not very religious and I find mass boring, but this mass was different and interesting. A lot of air force men and women gathered in their uniforms sitting in their pews. Mass started and there was a band that played good music and it was joyful and exciting to listen to. Everyone was friendly and the priest would interact with the crowd. My throat got tight and I almost cried. It was emotional being there. Anthony told me that the first time he came to mass here, he cried because training was stressful on him and this was the only place he could express his feelings. Mass ended and this was the last day we could hang out with him. We all went to Sea World and we got to ride on a roller coaster. Anthony sat with a friend he met at basic training. Funny thing was they didn’t scream or anything. They just sat there and then the picture at the booth was the best. My brothers’ face was priceless, and we bought a copy of it to remember it forever. We all watched shows of dolphins, whales, and sea lions. They were really good, we laughed at some of the things they did and I’m sure everyone enjoyed themselves. After Sea World, we went to the Alamo and walked around there and toured the place. I think that was boring, but spending time with my brother was nice. We then went back to the Lackland Air Force Base because Anthony really wanted to see Harry Potter seven part two because he hasn’t seen any movies since he was back home. At the movie, Anthony fell asleep; we didn’t want to wake him up because we knew he was really tired. But we woke him up at the very end. Then it was time to say our final goodbyes, we stopped at a bus stop so Anthony could take the bus back to his dorm. We gave him hugs and he said, “I’ll be home for Christmas.” This made my throat get tight and saying goodbye is always the hardest thing. The bus came and we saw him get on it. We all then got in the car and the bus drive off. We waved and then we exited the base. By this time, my mom was crying, grabbing tissues to wipe her eyes. I really wanted to cry but then I knew that they would call me a baby or say something to me. I was still staring at the bus as it drove over the bridge under the interstate we were on. I kept looking till I couldn’t see it anymore and I wondered if he was looking at our car.
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