Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Real-life heroes

Sometimes a feel-good story is just that: a story. But when you actually know someone in the story it takes on a whole new life. My cousin, Beth, recently sent this story along about a 14 year old autistic, bi-polar boy who wanted to be a Marine. The Marines at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in California made his dream come true. Did I mention Beth’s husband is Col. Norman J. Cooling, the commanding officer of the Mountain Warfare Training Center? Pretty cool, huh?

From www.marines.mil:

“Being made a Marine has been his lifetime dream come true,’ said his mother, Jenny Saldivar. “What the Marines did for him means more to him, and us, than you can ever imagine.”

For Cooling and his Marines, Alex’s dream day included presenting him with a certificate declaring him a member of the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center team.

“Alex's own service has been in providing all of us with an example of strength, perseverance and selflessness,” said Cooling, a Baytown, Texas native. “He is an example of our institutional Corps values and for that, it was important for us to grant his wish.”

Cooling said granting the request was more than making Alex’s dream a reality—it was an opportunity to bond with the whole community.

“I wanted the people of the local communities to recognize service means more to Marines than simply the warfighting portion of our business,” he said. “We are part of the community.”

I am thankful for the men and women like Norm who serve, and the men and women, like Beth, who support them.