A funny thing has happened since Robert became a Marine: I care a lot more about the Marine Corps, individual Marines, and the military in general.
"Look around you," the officers at Robert's boot camp graduation in San Diego said. "See all those people? They're all family members of Marines.
"Well, they're your family now, too."
I wondered how that would work. After all, I'm a short, fat, gray-haired white guy who teaches college - media! - in the Upper Midwest.
This doesn't exactly fit the stereotypical demographics of your typical U.S. Marine Corps recruit.
But that doesn't matter.
Long ago, the Corps made the decision that where a Marine came from didn't matter. It didn't matter who your grandmother was. It didn't matter where you grew up. It didn't matter how rich or poor your family is. You're a Marine, and that's all that matters.
I grew up in the Vietnam era. There was an attitude, largely unspoken but still there, that the only people who served in the military at that time were people who were too dumb to dodge the draft.
The military ended up troubled. It took more than a decade to fix that mess.
But we've all got something in common. Someone we love is a Marine, and that makes us family.