Monday, December 7, 2009

My Brother, My Hero

I have been meaning to put words to these photos for awhile now. Today is the day.

I used to hate having siblings. I used to ask my Mom why did she have more? While, I know I was by no means a perfect child, far from it in fact, I guess I didn’t feel it necessary to have more. I was good enough, ya know? But now, I cannot imagine my life without them. All 3 of them.

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I used to be really close with Brett. I’m not sure he would agree, but I felt like I had a pretty good bond with him for awhile. I remember when he went to college, things changed a bit since he kind of had his own thing going on and Daren was the brother who was home and I lived nearby. I hadn’t really been close with Daren like I was Brett. Daren was always in to playing war and watching the history channel and running around in the woods. Things I was just not into at all. See below.


But with Brett gone and Daren home, and me wanting to cling close to my family, I foraged a good relationship with him too, which to be honest, I was not ever sure was possible. I learned to appreciate our differences. While I cannot talk with him about politics, he does have some quality points …I guess. While I don't watch the history channel, he did watch some ok things. He liked to talk and was a good listener which meant a lot to me. I enjoyed our time together.

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And then it came time for him to go to college. School had never been this kid’s thing. I was nervous for him because I knew my parents would at least make him try it. And he did. He lasted a whole semester at WVU doing ROTC but after a lot of thought he was finally able to admit that it wasn’t for him and that he wanted to be happy and do something that he felt like he could be good at.


So, what did it decide to do? Join the Army. Believe it or not it took him 8 months to get in the Army. One would think with all that we have going on abroad right now, having a stupid pin in your foot would not prevent one from getting into the Army. But while his medical records sat one some guys desk, Daren no so patiently waited, and I was secretly grateful because it meant more time I got to spend with him. And he could help with my pups when I was busy with work. :-) But soon enough, he got his date to go to boot camp.

We finally got to have a party for Daren. He didn’t really get a graduation party from high school like Brett and I did, not sure why, we are a busy family, I am sure that has something to do with it. But August 1st, Daren had a wonderful send off equipped with the coolest cake ever (mainly because that was my assignment).



A few months later Daren graduated from infantry school and has really become a soldier in every sense of the word. I hopped on a plane with the rest of my family and went down to the most deserted place in Georgia: Ft. Benning.

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I can see why Daren hated it so much there. It was cold, rainy, and ghetto as all hell. The post wasn’t so bad – just typical. I was surprised at how many questions I had for him. I wanted to know everything he had been through and would constantly point to people and ask what they were doing, as if he knows. But much to my surprise, he did sometimes.

Daren did get to take some photos and even a video of his barracks.

Ft. Benning from Danielle Giannandrea on Vimeo.



This made me worrisome. It is on the wall right by Daren's bunk.




I'm not sure I could have dealt with this... Not to mention the fact that there were urinals in the woman's bathroom.


This is Melly - post very early morning flight. We were pretty tired.

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This is me! A good one by Momma.

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Day one there we literally got right off the plane, got into our really small for 8 people GMC, grabbed a bite to eat, and made the 2 hour trek to Ft. Benning for Daren’s Turning Blue ceremony. The turning blue ceremony is where Daren gets his blue Infantry cord which goes on his Class A uniform. It was quite impressive.

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This is little Rod. (Daren being big Rod, of course, because our last name is Rodman). Little Rod's family could not make the trip down for graduation from Washington state. But our family was proud of him too. He is with Daren in Germany currently and will also be deployed with him in a few months.


One thing I love about Daren is his inability to keep a straight face during anything. I love that he is constantly holding back a smile.

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Even with his drill sergeant.

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Daren had a lot of pride when we picked him up and you could see it in his being. It was quite impressive.

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Sheldon had pride too, of course. It just didn't come off quite the same.


The next day we all went to Daren’s graduation ceremony which was on post on a huge cement field. They did demonstrations I probably could have done without and presented awards and had speeches. Basically, your typical graduation, except Army style.

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Everyone thought these two looked like brothers:


After a quick bite to eat, we were back in the car, making our way to the airport. I have never been more proud to walk through the airport. I will admit that I normally feel pretty entitled walking through the airport because I really like going places and I feel important with a boarding pass in my hand. Don’t ask, I have no idea why. But walking through the airport with literally everyone looking at your little brother is awesome. Even more awesome was when we were about to land and one of the flight attendants stopped and spoke with my brother and another soldier on the plane and got on the loud speaker and made everyone aware that there were 2 soldiers on the plane today – one coming home from Iraq and one leaving soon as well. The whole plane applauded. It was pretty amazing to me, and made me totally teary. But my god, I cry every time they say “Move that bus!” on Extreme Home Makeover.

This past Saturday it snowed. Which seemed too perfect and too fitting since Saturday was Daren’s last day in the America for a long time. My mom made a home cooked meal and we all sat around like we did when we were little, said the blessing, waited for Daren to ask “How was everyone’s day?” before we started to recount what we did, and lingered until someone started cleaning up dishes. I loved it. It was exactly what I would have wanted if it was my last day at home. I hope it was for him too.

Daren is part of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and is stationed in Germany for a few months before being deployed to Afghanistan. He is excited and wants to see a lot of things before his deployment. While he is still the same old Daren, the Army has turned him into a proud, confident, and quality Soldier. I am really happy to be his sister, then and now.

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Steve said...

Great Post. I'm sure PV2 Rodman will make a great soldier. I had a guy that it took me 12 months to get in the Army so I know your brother's pain. Don't forget I helped decorate the cake too!! The pic of Sheldon is great (and caption)

Steve said...

Forgot to mention the photos of the barracks bring back memories from when I was at Ft Benning. They look exactly the same as I remember them except for the pics, color schemes, etc. Painful, but fun memories!!

Dani Leigh/Sweet D! said...

Ohhhh Steve! I totally forgot to give you cake credits! You set up the whole battlefield!

Mom said...

Of course I didn't get through the whole thing without crying, but you knew that would happen, didn't you. I think the thing that means the most to me about my kids is how much they love each other. What a great salute to Daren!

Jennifer said...

Love the last pic of you two ...