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Four Years at the Mount

The Graduate

Terminal C Reflections

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

(6/2017) For the past few years, Iíve included an airport article at least once a year. There is something unique, fleeting and exciting about being in an airport, and so writing in one has to be special, at least I think it must. So, here I am in an airport awaiting my flight to Haiti. I waited for this moment to write partially for sentimental purposes partially for purposes of reminiscing on my love for procrastination all throughout college.

In an attempt to make this a little easier for anyone reading, Iím going to need to explain myself a bit. It is the month of Fatherís Day for our column, I just graduated so maybe I donít fit into that column anymore, I just commissioned and am leaving shortly for my first orders as an Army officer, and Iím currently on my way to Haiti for the wait time in between. Now, if you read to the end youíll see how I make all of this fit together, but if you get confused along the way just bear with me, please.

First, Iíll explain my airport ramblings. I call an airport unique, fleeting, and exciting, though I recognize they are more often than not busy, overcrowded and frustrating. So, I admit check-in lines, security waits and changing terminals arenít ideal and probably hold nothing worth reflection. However, once you find your gate and sit down, something does happen. You are sitting simply waiting on an adventure, literally, as you probably run through mental checklists of what you forgot, and would happen if you actually did forget, checking timelines, charging your phone, but if even for one second you stop to just wait, thatís where the magic is. Again, you sit awaiting a chariot taking you to your next adventure, leaving one place for an entirely new one, knowing that you probably canít just drive home if you donít love it. Some combination of those factors makes it worth the chaos of an airport. Whether itís knowing you canít turn back, the anxiousness that pairs itself with another town, or the simple fact of remembering your mortal nature before you get into a tube that will fly tens of thousands of feet above the ground, it is the perfect recipe for reflection. I, like most, have plenty to reflect upon.

I graduated, commissioned, and am preparing to leave for my first orders. Though I know that these events are huge, I learned a huge lesson through it all and through the last few months. It is all exciting in its own right, but I donít care too much about the formalities of a commencement ceremony or the diploma that will shortly come in the mail. What I found is I care much more about the people who sat in the auditorium and watched my take my oath of office, the people who came and helped me carry my things out of graduation because I was on crutches, and the people who will move from that stage of my life to the next. The one who deserves special attention, then, is my Dad.

Okay, so this may seem a little formulaic at this point but I swear this all actually works this way.

My Dad, a man of few words, is perhaps my biggest influence in all that I do to include the events of the past few weeks. I know Iíve written about my dad before, but I shy away from it because I donít think I can do it justice. Heís hard to explain, sometimes hard to understand, but has pushed me further than any other person could have. He checks my oil before I take a trip, last night he went out in the middle of the night because my check engine light came on hours before I had to drive to the airport, he cooked chicken for 50 people at my graduation party this weekend, but he is more.

He actually said "Why didnít you get a 100" almost every day of high school when I told him I got a 97 on a math test. And, he meant it. He knew who I was before I did, but never told me, simply pushed me. Believe me, I didnít like it. I think we probably fought at least a few times a week from age 14-18, but looking back I understand it all (people always say that happens, and I hate that they are right).

So, letís come full circle. Military, airports, Dad, Haiti Ė it all comes together.

Last week at my commissioning ceremony, the first thing that I saw when the formal part came to an end and I stepped down to say hi to everyone was my Dad smiling. Remember, what Iíve said about my Dad above and before. The man does smile, but this was something Iíve never seen before. I saw everything come together looking at my Dad, who smiled more that day than he does in a day of driving his boat around, which is his favorite activity. He was truly and genuinely proud, and he has been this whole time. So, here is a short story in recognition of silence and the Dads who say less, but mean the most.

My final thoughts here in Terminal C are then this: Iím awaiting a trip to Haiti, where Iíll continue the chaos, return right before my orders to Ft. Lee begin, and then start my military life. All of this Iíll do knowing that the tube Iím getting in to take me to my next adventure isnít very important, but the people around me are. Oh, and my Dad is proud.

Told you it would make sense, kind of.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary