By Debbie Gregory.
A lot of strength and courage is needed to join the military, and not just from the enlistees themselves, but also from their families and friends as well. Parents ride the roller coaster of emotions more so than anyone else. They experience the sadness of seeing their child off, the worry of their child’s well-being when they’re away, and pride, knowing that their child has stepped up to defend our country.
For Dana Ritcheson, these feelings are twice as strong. Dana has twice traveled to California, from her native Murphysboro, Illinois to see not just one, but both of her sons graduate at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
Ritcheson credits the Marines with finishing the job that job she started, rearing these two fine young men. “I’ve seen so much change in my sons since they joined the Marine Corps,” said the proud mom. She added, “They both really grew up in the Marine Corps.”
Her sons, Sgt. Joseph Ritcheson and Cpl. James Ritcheson, are identical twins. Joseph is an information systems management technical with the U.S Central Command, and James is an administrative specialist with 1st Marine Corps District . Their journey, however, was not identical. Sgt Ritcheson joined the Marine Corps as soon as he finished high school, while Corporal Ritcheson attended college before he joined.
“Joey always said from early on that he wanted to be a Marine,” Dana Ritcheson said. Her son, James, made up his mind to join after seeing the effect the Corps had on his brother. “My brother played a big part in my decision to join the Marine Corps,” the Corporal said. “In 2011, when I decided to join, he had already purchased a brand-new house in Florida, a new car, and was doing something with his life.”
Joseph said he knew the Corps would be good for his brother, adding, “You would be surprised how small the Marine Corps is when you have someone who looks exactly like you.”
Corporal Ritcheson, who has served for three years, knows he has benefited from his commitment. He said, “I look back at my friends who stayed home, and they’re still doing what they were doing three years ago.”
After an initial period of apprehension of sending two of her children off to become Marines, Dana says she is now brimming with pride over their achievements. SHe knows, as do other military parents, that her children are doing something that’s important.
From a grateful nation, thank you to both Sergeant Ritcheson and Corporal Ritcheson for your service. Thank you to the Ritcheson family and to all the families who serve and sacrifice, for your courage and support.