Graduation #1

Another one of the blessings of Steve’s cardiac bypass surgery was the timing of it. Although his surgery was only three weeks ago, Steve was recovered enough to be able to go to our son’s graduation last week; the first of the three graduations happening for our family this May.

Ethan gets his diploma from the DLI. Even in formal dress uniform, he’s not immune to teasing from his sister. Jennifer especially liked his kicky beret.

On Thursday, we packed Steve, his pain meds and pillow and drove to Monterey for Ethan’s graduation ceremony from the Defense Language Institute (DLIFLC is the full acronym). The DLI is a pretty cool place because it is where every branch of the military sends their soldiers for language training; it doesn’t matter what rank you are, if you need to learn a language to do your job in the military, the DLI is where you are sent. Privates, lieutenants, Green Berets, sailors, Marine Special Ops, airmen…they are all there.

The length of time that a service member spends at the DLI is determined by the language they are learning. French and German are six month programs; Korean which Ethan was studying is an 18 month program. Eight hours a day of Korean in a class of about eight students…passing the proficiency test is as much a victory in overcoming the tedium of the program as it is in mastering the language.

As he told me at lunch after graduation: can he speak Korean? He’s not entirely sure. Can he run an academic marathon that at times seemed designed to suck the life out of him? That, he is absolutely sure he can do.

We are very proud of him.


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