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Your Investment in My Son

A personal blog, and a heartfelt thank you.

Wednesday night was Senior Awards Night at the high school where my son will be graduating next week. My son, like so many young men, was a late bloomer in terms of focus and achievement. But one thing he decided early on was that he wanted to be part of the United States Marine Corps. He has never lost sight of that goal.

We have a long military history in our family going back to at least the Civil War. My husband is a former Naval Aviator who remains a Captain in the Navy Reserve. Our son's uncle was in the Air Force. His grandfather, the Army.

We've never had a Marine.

My son, through hard work and passion, was fortunate enough to win an NROTC/Marine Option scholarship to USC for next fall. It was, frankly, a shock. The Marines will pay for four years of education. He will then owe the Corps four years of active duty, followed by four more years as a reservist.

But this story is as much about you as it is about him.

My son sat quietly on stage with his fellow students Wednesday night in the school auditorium, when two Marines suddenly appeared in dress blues—a Major and a Staff Sergeant. While other presenters during the awards ceremony stood at the podium and used the microphone, the Major sternly stepped to the center of the stage and spoke directly to the audience (I was afraid he'd order us to drop and give him 20).

"This is your money," he said, referring to the scholarship. He paraphrased an old Chinese proverb: "Before you take a drink of water, remember those who dug the well." He thanked the parents and teachers. With Memorial Day just passed, he thanked the veterans whose sacrifice allowed us to gather as a free nation. Finally, he said, "Whoever you are, if you're a taxpayer, this is your money."

He then held up one of those big cardboard checks representing what it will cost to educate our son at USC (a lot). "It takes guts when our nation is at war to step up," the Major said. And then he called my son forward.

I think I can objectively say that what followed was the loudest and most sustained applause of the night. Hard to tell. I was just trying to watch him and savor the moment.

Now it's up to my son to successfully complete his education and become an officer. My hope and prayer is that he grows into a good and just leader, that wherever he is sent, he shows courage, and that he comes home safely.

Thanks to all Americans for the scholarship. I believe with all my heart you will be rewarded with an excellent return on your investment.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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