Thursday, May 15, 2008

A person with more courage and dedication...

...than I'll ever have is my friend, Matt. Before we get too far, let's rewind little bit.

About 15 yrs. ago, when I began Civil War reenacting, I remember meeting an annoying, 14-yr-old kid from home who also thought he was a reenactor. I kept seeing him at events, and got to know him a little better. I basically watched him make the transition from annoying kid to responsible adult, and I'm glad I was there for it. He became quite the reenactor.

Every year, at the Gettysburg reenactment, it seemd like no matter the scenario, Matt's unit and mine met across the lines, and we found ourselves engaged. As the fight ended we always got to talking, and we got to know each other a little better.

A few years ago, I got Matt into a grey uniform, and he had fun. Since then, we've made the trips to Cedar Creek, Fredericksburg, and a few other major reenactments, and we've gone on more than our share of adventures. I even got Matt into a WWII uniform, and he and I 'hit the beaches of Normandy' during the annual D-Day reenactment on Lake Erie in Ohio. Through it all Matt and I became good friends. I love him like a brother.

Last year, Matt and his girlfriend Crystal (in the photos above, a girl who's also pretty awesome herself) spent an incredible weekend in Gettysburg. Matt has an ancestor who fought here, in the 62nd Pa in the Wheatfield, so we paid our respect at their monument, and at the PA Monument as well.

Matt is a kid who's been dealt a pretty tough blow. He lost his mom to an illness some 7 or 8 years ago. Rather than sulk and cry, Matt used this as a life experience and became stronger as a result. He's been trying to fulfill his life's dreams. He got his teaching certificate, and became a full-time teacher in a school district in a small town in NW PA.

But, there was always one dream he had, and one he was determined to accomplish. Matt wanted to be a US Marine. So, what did he do about it? He enlisted. At age 28, Mr. G, as his students call him, is headed for Parris Island on May 19th. "Crazy!" you say? "What the heck is he thinking?" You know what? This guy's stubborn enough, and detemined enough that he will actually do it, and prevail!

Mr. G, we're all gonna miss you the next three months or so. You'll be thought of often! Just remember, at the end of 'the Crucible', and when you're eating the warrior breakfast, your life will never be the same. You'll have done something amazing, and all of us who know you will have an even higher level of respect for you! Good luck!
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