Day three in Wisconsin was dedicated to Nick's Navy Basic Training graduation! This was the main reason for our trip and we were pretty excited to see Nick and the ceremony. We were up and rolling bright and early as we made our way to with hundreds of other families to the Navy base at 7:00 a.m. We were smart in arriving very early so we did not wait in traffic very long before clearing the gate, finding a parking space and waiting in line to enter the auditorium. Each graduating sailor is only allowed 4 guests and you must be on the list and present ID to gain access. I did take quite a few pictures of the museum that leads into the actual auditorium. Unfortunately with everyone anxious to find just the right seats I did not spend very much time looking at the displays but am glad I at least took lots of pictures as I walked through.
The United States Navy conducts all of their basic training at the US Naval Recruit Training Center located near Waukegan, Illinois. Waukegan is located just north of Chicago. Graduations for seaman recruits are held almost every week of the year. The great thing about the military is that they are punctual. It's not like attending a concert or play where the curtain does not always go up on time. The ceremony started promptly at 9:00 a.m. and the new sailors were given liberty at 10:30 a.m. sharp.
In all I would estimate that there were 12 divisions graduating with approximately 80 to 90 recruits in each division. The ceremony started with very patriotic music, presentation of the flags (including all 50 states), marching in of the recruits, additional music, sailors creed, presentation of special awards etc. It was a very powerful and respectful ceremony both for the graduates and their families.
I am a United States Sailor.
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.
After the new sailors were given liberty it was chaos and mayhem trying to get down from the bleachers to find your sailor because they all looked alike. I just latched on to Anthony's jacket and followed through the crowd until we found Nick. Being vertically challenged does have it's disadvantages at times and this was one of them.
After hugs and pictures Nick walked back with all of us to the chapel but then he had to return to his ship (their sleeping quarters) to assist with some cleaning they did not have time to perform before the ceremony. Family members are not allowed past the chapel for security reasons. He found all of us again at the commissary killing time while we waited for him. Then we headed to the Gurnee Mills mall to shop for a watch for Nick. We stopped in a ton of shops and he finally found one that he could wear (it had to be all black) at Macys. We grabbed a very quick (and noisy) meal at the Rainforest Café. It was kind of a disaster of a meal because they put us next to a table of about 20 screaming out of control 6 and 7 year old kids there for a birthday party and there was only 1 adult in charge. At least the food was good. We raced Nick back to base as he had an 8 p.m. curfew.