So as you might imagine, Nugget is not what this little feller is going to be called…..well okay that is a lie. I will probably call him Nugget, even when he is 40 and has children of his own. Because he’ll always be my little Nugget. As cool as it would be to put “Nugget” on a birth certificate, I am not ready to be put into that category of people who name their kids weird things. When it came to naming this little man, it actually didn’t take us that long to decide….despite the fact that I have failed to mention it until now.
I had been all for naming him after Andy, but he would have none of that. I sort of resigned myself to letting him come up with names to propose, but I maintained veto power…which believe me was a good thing. His first suggestion was Smedley….no I am serious. Here’s where that came from.
Smedley Darlington Butler, nicknamed “Old Gimlet Eye” (um, how do you get that nickname?), was one of the most decorated Marines in history and one of only 19 people to receive the Medal of Honor twice. So obviously a cool guy, but as I pointed out to Andy, there was a reason that the name Smedley died out in the early 1900s.
Other suggestions included: Chester, Leonidas (yes because he likes 300 so much….in fact he considers it a good parenting reference), and other ridiculous names that I couldn’t rightfully name my little boy. Mostly I think he was trying to come up with the most ludicrus names to throw at me because he thought it was hilarious. Then he brought something real to the table. Here he is:
This adorable little old man is who our son will be named after. One might think that it was the suspenders that got us….and I’ll admit, when I found this picture, the suspenders just warmed my little heart, but no, it wasn’t just the suspenders. This is Jacklyn Harold Lucas, obviously a Marine, and a Medal of Honor recipient for his heroism on Iwo Jima. I’ll admit, when Andy said what about “Jack Lucas”, the main reason I jumped was because it was so normal. I wondered if I would get any other reasonable suggestions or if I should strike while the iron was hot. But the more I rolled the name over my tongue, the more I liked it. Jack. Such a good name. Simple, but strong. It is sort of timeless as well. It worked 100 years ago and it works today. It works for a 2-year-old and it works for a 60-year-old. I agreed that was what his name would be and didn’t think much more about it. We toyed with different middle names. I like the name Lucas for a middle name, but our last name starts with an “L”. J.L.L….hmmm would that be too weird? Would people think I was trying to embrace the whole Jonathon Taylor Thomas thing? Don’t try to lie and say you don’t remember calling him J.T.T. We tried a few different middle names with Jack, but nothing felt right. We finally decided we liked Jack Lucas and that would be it.
At Christmas, Andy’s dad lent him “Flags of Our Fathers” by James Bradley. We have the movie, which is excellent if you haven’t seen it, but I had never read the book. Technically, he gave it to Andy to read, but I had run out of material and kept forgetting to go to the library after work, so I stole it. Andy didn’t mind, he was preoccupied with other things.
The book talks about the six flag raisers in the famous Iwo Jima picture. It talks about their lives before the war, their training, the war, and afterwards. This morning on the train ride into work I stumbled upon this part:
But up on the front lines, American boys were avenging these losses with a fury. Some of the fiercest of these “boys” were just that: kids barely out of childhood. Jacklyn Lucas was an example. He’d fast-talked his way into the Marines at fourteen, fooling the recruiters with his muscled physique and martinet style- he’d attended a military academy before signing up. Assigned to drive a truck in Hawaii, he had grown frustrated; he wanted to fight. He stowed away on a transport out of Honolulu, suriviving on the food passed along to him by sympathetic leathernecks on board.
He landed on D-Day without a rifle. He grabbed one lying on the beach and fought his way inland.
Now, on D+1, Jack and three comrades were crawling through a trench when eight Japanese sprang in front of them. Jack shot one of them through the head. Then his rifle jammed. As he struggled with it a grenade landed at his feet. He yelled a warning to the others and rammed the grenade into the soft ash. Immediately, another rolled in. Jack Lucas, seventeen, fell on both grenades. “Luke, you’re gonna die,” he remembered thinking.
Jack Lucas later told a reporter: “The force of the explosion blew me up into the air and onto my back. Blood poured out of my mouth and I couldn’t move. I knew I was dying.” His comrades wiped out the remaining Japanese and returned to Jack, to collect the dog tags from his body. To their amazement, they found him not only alive but conscious. Aboard the hospital ship Samaritan the doctors could scarcely believe it. “Maybe he was too damned young and too damned tough to die,” one said. He endured twenty-one reconstructive operations and became the nation’s youngest Medal of Honor winner- and the only high school freshman to receive it.
When I asked him, fifty-three years after the event, “Mr. Lucas, why did you jump on those grenades?” he did not hesitate with his answer: “To save my buddies”.
Now I am not a big fan of war or anything, but I do have to admit that reading this brought tears to my eyes. Not just because of what this man did, but because it reminded me so much of Andy and all his buddies. Jack Lucas was just like every other Marine I have known.
Maybe it is just because I am super emotional in my current state, but after reading this I got this swelling sense of pride that this is the man Andy wanted to name his son after. I fully hope that our Jack Lucas will never have the opportunity to go to war. Sometimes I hope he is completely opposite of his dad and has no interest in going into the military. It isn’t that I am not proud of Andy and the legacy of the Marine Corps. It is just…well Nugget is my baby. I have first-hand knowledge of what it was like to wait out a war. It was agonizing and it was my husband. As much as I loved him and as much as I wanted him home safely, there was part of me that was preparing to lose him. That realized I would still have to go on. I remember telling myself how I could not let it rip me apart if he never came home. It was probably one of the hardest times in my life, but I knew that my experience paled in comparison to that of a mother. I had only been in love with Andy for five years at this point in my life. I hadn’t grown him inside me, given him life, watched him grow, seen him almost every day of his existence. If he hadn’t come home, my pain would have been miniscule compared to his mother’s. I am not sure I am up to the task of being a military mom. I have thought about it some, about how I would be proud if he chose to go down that path. But selfishly I hope he doesn’t. I would rather he become a ballerino than a Marine….let’s be honest, I love the theater so it would actually be kind of awesome. It would probably break his dad’s heart a little, but not as much as it would to have to bury our son.
Anyway, I know all this is super premature. Why worry about this now? He still has two months to bake and 18 years to grow up before I have to think about this sort of thing. All I hope for now is that he is as proud of his namesake as I am. I just want to give that cute little old man a big ole kiss on the cheek. He is so cute!