Issue 262 — The Paregien Journal — August 24, 2012
Airman Daniel J. Paregien, USAF Reserves
by Stan Paregien Sr. (aka “Grandpa”)
Peggy and I spent Friday, Aug. 10th through Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012 in the little foreign country south of Oklahoma’s Red River. Right, deep in the heart of Texas.
We spent a couple of days helping our daughter, Stacy Magness, and her family move across to a different home in Caldwell, Texas. Short-haul moving trips are the hardest, and I speak from vast experience in making dozens of runs from House A to House B with car loads or pickup loads of this and that. It was no different this time, and that ol’ hot Texas sun and humidity was mite near boiling point. But we got ‘er done, and we able to visit with John and Stacy and their daughter Christal (a SENIOR this year) and their son Dylan and his new bride, Brittany.
Then we moved on down the road to sprawling San Antonio. On our first full day there, we spent most of it visiting two of the very old Catholic missions — Mission Concepcion and Mission San Juan. Very interesting and, to a dyed-in-wool couple of history buffs, very interesting. We got some great photos and I’ll tell that story and show some photos another time.
The major point of this trip to San Antonio was to attend our grandson Daniel J. Paregien’s graduation from Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base. Dan is the son of Becky and Major Stan Paregien Jr (full-time with the Air Force Reserves at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, IL). Ironically, Dan’s father went through the same training at the same base way back in 1985, just after he graduated from high school in Stroud, OK. Daniel graduated from high school in Illinois last May and completed his 8-week basic training course with two ceremonies, one on Thursday, Aug. 16th and the other on Friday, Aug. 17th. Our daughter and her daughter were able to join us for the ceremony on Friday. And Daniel’s girlfriend, Haley Goodfellow, flew down from Illinois to attend.
I have posted several photos from those days, though because of uploading problems (my doggone AT&T internet flubbing up, I think). So the very last photo below is actually of when Daniel graduated from high school back in May in Illinois. The rest are fairly self-explanatory, but there are titles on each photo.
After being on the air base for three days (including chapel on Sunday morning), I certainly have a greater appreciation for the military and–especially for the young men and women who commit their lives to serving their country. Amazingly, Lackland AFB processes over 35,000 trainees each and every year. Not all of them graduate, of course, but mechanisms are in place to give each trainee a high change of succeeding. Of the some 725 graduates last Friday, the top honor for any Airman went to . . . the envelope, please . . . well, it went to . . . a young lady. Good for her! That was quite an accomplishment on her behalf. And we were/are proud of her and our grandson Daniel and each of those 725 graduates. It was also inspiring to see some 4,000 or more family members and friends of those new Airmen take the time come for the ceremony and to hug and kiss their special graduate. There was a lot of love going on those days.
The chapel experience is worth nothing. Each trainee had been assigned to a specific chapel service at a particular time, depending on their religious preference. There were many, many chapel services during the day. Of course, they were not required to attend and some did not. I was encouraged, though, by the fact the vast majority of those bright young people did voluntarily attend chapel week after week. Daniel had been to the 8 am protestant worship in the Gateway Chapel. So that is the one we attended with him.
There were lots of parents, family members and friends with many of the cadets. Some cadets, of course, were by themselves (the vast majority, since many folks had to return home after the ceremony on Friday). It was not a “Pentecostal” style of worship; but it was loud and enthusiastic. The chapel (I’m guessing) could seat about 400 or more, and it was crammed full with a sea of blue uniforms. And, incidentally, I was also impressed when–during the “coining” ceremony on Thursday, the Air Force band played two patriotic/religious songs: “God Bless America” and Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to Be An American” (or whatever the exact title is). I spent quite a bit of time in my latest E-book, WOODY GUTHRIE: HIS LIFE, MUSIC AND MYTH (for sale at Amazon.com), telling the intriguing story of how folk singer-songwriter and Oklahoman Guthrie was so angered by Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” (because he thought it glossed over the problems of the poor and unemployed people) that he sat down and wrote a song to tell the truth (i.e., his socialist or, some would say, his communist ideas). That song was the beloved “This Land Is Your Land,” but that is because most people have never heard or read the last three verses of his song. More about that, another time.
Anyway, it was a joyous and inspiring few days that with got to spend in San Antonio. We even got to eat Spanish food (ah, heck, make that Mexican) at the Mi Tierra restaurant in the El Mercado area west of downtown and on Friday at noon at the Maria Mia Mexican Bistro on the Riverwalk in the downtown area.
However, the best part was the pride we felt as another member of our family joined the military. We are proud of our son and, now, of our grandson. And we Paregiens were well-represented in Iraq, Vietnam, World War II, World War I, and the Civil War. My great-great grandfather, James Alexander Paregien, and his brother William both served in the Union Army from Illinois. And James Paregien fought at the Battle of Shiloh and several other major battles, then served as a drill instructor at Benton Barracks in St. Louis Missouri.
So we end by simply saying thank you to all military people, men and women, who in the past have honorably served their country and thank you to those who are currently doing so.
NOTE: Please click on each photo or graphic to ENLARGE it.