An Independent Mind
Keith and Linda Freshour's son, Robert, always had an independent streak. When he announced that he wanted to join the Marine Corps, his mind was made up. But Keith wasn't afraid to ask Robert several tough questions.
"I warned him, 'Do you know what you're getting yourself into? Because you haven't liked the idea of me telling you what to do, and our rules haven't been near as strict as the Marines will be. So, do you know what you're doing?' " Keith said.
Keith had plenty of reasons to make sure his son was serious about service. His father and brother had served in the Marine Corps, and Linda had several servicemembers on her side of the family as well. Even though Keith had expected that Robert might want to join some day, he wanted his son to make sure that he really wanted to be in the Military.
Developing Determination & Character
Like Keith, Linda wanted to make sure her son was fully informed about the Marine Corps. She was also concerned about Keith's safety. She said, "I am a mother, and I don't know any mother out there who wouldn't have their heart just bend at the thought of their son or daughter being in a place that there's nothing they can do."
Keith also admitted that he wondered if Robert had the discipline required to succeed in Recruit Training. Robert reassured his parents that he knew what he wanted to do and that he wanted to see his plans through. Ultimately, Keith and Linda chose to trust their son's judgment.
It paid off. At Robert's graduation ceremony at Parris Island, S.C., Keith and Linda were amazed at how disciplined Robert had become. Despite a foot injury he sustained during Recruit Training, Robert graduated on time. Keith said, "I was very proud of Robert for sticking it out and showing determination and will. I saw a lot of character … within him come out."
Proud of His Sacrifice
Once she saw Robert in uniform, Linda also noticed a few side benefits to Marine Corps discipline. She said, "His uniform looked awesome … I was saying, 'Your shirt, it's perfect. And where did you get this ironed?' The creases were incredible. And he said, 'What do you mean where did I send it? I ironed this!' And I said, 'Whoa! The Marines are worth everything to me! A man learned how to iron!' "
I saw a lot of character [come out] within him.
After graduation and further training, Robert deployed twice to Iraq, once as a machine-gunner and once as a Humvee driver. Linda admitted she's had a hard time knowing that her son may be in danger, but she is proud of the sacrifice Robert was willing to make.
"The hardest part is the obvious part – the danger of it. The danger has got to be the hardest because you never know," Linda said.
Service That Matters
Staying in touch with Robert through the phone, instant messaging, email and care packages helped Keith and Linda with the strain of being separated from their son. Robert also sent pictures of himself spending time with an Iraqi family. Keith said, "There he is with this Iraqi family that looks like they're thankful that they're there to help them have the freedoms they would like to have. That's very much worth it."
In his line of work, Robert has faced challenges and danger. Keith and Linda have worried the whole way, but they remain proud of what their son has decided to do. Linda said, "He probably feels like he's making a difference. He's doing something that means something, that counts for something."
Robert hasn't made firm decisions about the future, but his parents are there to support him. Keith said, "I know he has enough respect for what he's doing that he sees a future in it, which I think is a good thing for him, and that he can take advantage of that and even get an education while he's in the Military. That will be the best route for Robert. And we are definitely behind him in that as well."