A Blue Candle


The lighting of a blue candle is a tradition with several different stories. The candle is lit for sailors separated from their families during the holidays, for sailors in danger far away, or to light a sailor’s way home. It’s also popularly used as a way to mark the time recruits complete the most arduous part of their training–in a sense, to bring them “home” to complete boot camp and become sailors.

Ross begins what is known as “Battle Stations 21” at 2200 tonight. This is a 12-hour grueling rite-of-passage aboard the Navy’s 210 foot long (3/4 scale) destroyer, the U.S.S. Trayer, a simulator first commissioned in 2007 and loaded with Hollywood-style special effects. Events through the night include missile attacks as well as fires and flooding from undersea mines. It’s designed to replicate terrorist attacks, battle damage, and at-sea disasters. Every recruit must pass battle stations before becoming a sailor.

If Ross doesn’t pass it, he will not graduate.

Recruits in his graduating group (which includes eleven divisions–each division has approximately 80 recruits–some are mixed, male/female, and some are all male–Ross is in an all-male division) have been going through battle stations since the middle of last week. Some of them didn’t pass. They will retake battle stations this week, some of them with Ross’s division. Ross’s division is one of the last in his graduating group to go through battle stations. If any of them don’t pass, there will be little time to try again. They will be retaking battle stations the night before graduation, if necessary.

Which will make for some pretty tired sailors on graduation day.

Some of those who do not pass will never pass, and their careers in the Navy will be over.

Here is a CNN on-scene video about Battle Stations 21.

Ross. Will. Pass. And this Friday, I will see him here:

And I’ll need some tissues.

(That’s a long video, but if you just watch the first couple of minutes, you’ll get an idea of the pageantry.)

I’m leaving first thing tomorrow morning to start driving to Great Lakes, Illinois, with Weston and Morgan. I’ll be updating as I can. (At some point after battle stations, Ross will be allowed to make his “I am a sailor” call. I don’t know when that will be, but I will already be on my way to Great Lakes.) Thanks for understanding if my post schedule is more haphazard than usual while I’m on my trip. This weekend, Ross will have liberty before heading to South Carolina for two years of nuclear power training as he prepares for work on Navy submarines. Not sure what all we will be doing this weekend. Ross asked for some good food and a long shower, and he said he wanted to see the sun!

P.S. You can light a blue candle for Ross and the others boys in his division tonight, if you want! It can’t hurt!

P.P.S. If you have a child joining the Navy, I can’t say strongly enough–join Navy for Moms. Saturday night, I had been on the phone with my dad for about half an hour. He talks really slowly and I had sat down and clicked on the internet while he was talking. I clicked on my division group from Navy for Moms. There was a message from another mom of a boy in Ross’s division–she said they had been given a reward and were at the NEX making phone calls RIGHT NOW. She was on the phone with her son. I said, “Dad, I HAVE TO GO. Ross might call!” My dad is 85. He has never used the internet. Not only did he not understand the magic by which I had this piece of information, it was hopeless to explain it, and it took a few minutes to get off the phone. Believe me, the phone didn’t leave my hand. Within minutes, it rang and it was Ross!!!!!! I said, “I knew you were going to call!” I got to talk to him for a whole hour. The internet really is a beautiful thing. You can find Navy for Moms here.

P.P.P.S. I told Ross that I’d watched this graduation video on YouTube and couldn’t wait to see him marching at his graduation. He said, “I hate marching. It will all be for you, Mom!”

UPDATE 08-11-10: Ross passed Battle Stations 21! HE IS A SAILOR!!!!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on August 10, 2010  

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53 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 8-10

    I bet you are so proud of your BOY! Ross will pass! :fairy: have a safe and wonderful trip Suzanne!

  2. 8-10

    Suzanne, this is wonderful. YES! Ross will pass – I have no doubts at all. I had no idea they went through that kind of battle station drill.

    You will love the ceremony – I attended an Army boot camp graduation of a son’s friend in Augusta, GA a few years ago – even I cried!!!

    Best wishes….

  3. 8-10

    Congratulations and good luck to Ross! Suzanne, we’ll do our best to keep the weather forecast (for metropolitan Chicago) at sunny for Friday. (It’s been raining and flooding for nearly 2 weeks) There’s a blue candle here, at my desk, for all the promising sailors in Ross’s division.

  4. 8-10

    A Whole Box of kleenex will not be enough! I have had the privledge of attending Great Lakes when my oldest Grandson’s Father graduated and I must say the whole experience is overwhelming! After seeing him graduate he went on to the USS George Washington and was lead ship during the Cole bombing and later was first ship in New York harbor after the twin towers were bombed.Twelve years later he is still in The NAVY!
    P.S. My dear hubby was in the Navy during Vietnam!
    GO NAVY!

  5. 8-10

    I have blue candles at the ready. Ross and his division will be in my prayers even more tonight. God bless them all for their service!

  6. 8-10

    Good luck to Ross and congratulations to him on his upcoming graduation.

  7. 8-10

    Awwww…how exciting, and inspiring. Safe travels!

  8. 8-10

    wow, those videos gave me a chill!! Good luck on your trip and good luck to Ross!! Go Navy!! two of my nephews were in the Navy, they got to see the world!! Thanks for sharing, I would be very proud also!!


  9. 8-10

    I’ll light a blue candle for Ross tonight.

    I wish you a safe journey and a joyful reunion with your son!

  10. 8-10

    Of course Ross will pass!!! And then he’ll come on down to SC….Charleston SC is a wonderful place…so much to see and do…lots of great places to eat….you will all have to visit!!!! Safe travels to you all!

  11. 8-10

    It will be a momentous and emotional time for you and your children – sad and happy. My prayers will be with you, Suzanne. You have every reason to be proud of your boy. Just the fact that he made the decision to serve his country by joining the Navy and was willing to go through the rigorous training says a lot for his strength of character. My very best wishes to him.
    I hope you all have a wonderful time together.
    My hubby was a Marine during Vietnam.
    God bless our troops! God bless America!

  12. 8-10

    I love my Navy men! God bless Ross and all his classmates. I’ll be saying prayers for them tonight! Safe trip!!

  13. 8-10

    You have much to be proud of- Ross WILL pass!
    These ceremonies always bring tears to my eyes.
    My niece is an officer in the Navy and I have yet to go to any gathering- even the picnics make me cry- without being touched by the dedication and sacrifice made by the young men and women of America in the military.
    I’m praying for you and your family.

  14. 8-10

    Have a great trip! There is a ton of stuff to do in the Chicago area. Great America is a pretty common place for sailors to go for R&R. Perhaps a day riding roller coasters is in order! Please thank Ross for protecting our country.

  15. 8-10

    Best wishes to your new Sailor and have a wonderful visit with him and safe trip!!!

  16. 8-10

    The blue candle is at ready. Good luck Ross! YOU. CAN. DO. IT !!

    What an intense training. It may not be exactly what real situations are like, but it gives a much better idea to the recruits what being on a ship in bad situations is like.

    Safe travels to you and the kids and have the best of fun this weekend once Ross gets his liberty. Don’t worry about us, we’ll just be anxiously waiting for pics!

  17. 8-10

    Wishing Ross all the luck in the world and I’ll have that blue candle lit!

  18. 8-10

    Lighting a blue candle and saying prayers. Congratulations to all. Suzanne, don’t worry about posting…I’m sure we’ll all be here when you get back to it. Concentrate on your family.

  19. 8-10

    Can’t wait to hear your son has passed is a full sailor. I sent this to my best friend, Aimee, whose son is in the Air Force Academy. Although not the same branch, all military mothers share some of the same realities. Safe travels.

  20. 8-10

    This has to be the best:

    “He said, “I hate marching. It will all be for you, Mom!””

    Have a fantastic trip. I will be praying for Ross in his journey tonight…although I just know he will do well.
    I know Kleenex stocks will be up this week!

  21. 8-10

    Ross will pass with flying colors. Mom will cry…..which is only fitting because I have tears in my eyes reading this post.
    We are all proud of Ross….of all your kids and you!
    I will find a blue candle and burn it tonight for Ross and all the ‘gonna be sailors’.
    Safe trip, Suzanne.

  22. 8-10

    I’m lighting a blue candle.

    Have a wonderful time with your new sailor.

    Thank you for sharing all the trials/tribulations and happiness.

  23. 8-10

    I am a 6 week old Mom of a military kid. It is such a new world and I know that talking to other Moms really helps. We just got through the fears of basic training, so I can only imagine how you and the other Navy Moms feel. I will keep you and Ross and the other sailors in my prayers.

    Aimee Ryan
    Edmond, OK

  24. 8-10

    And of course since you will be SO close to Iowa, feel free to stop in….I have no goats, but lots of bovines!

  25. 8-10

    That’s wonderful. You must be so proud of him. Best wishes to you both and to the rest of the family.

  26. 8-10

    Your posts always make me laugh…not today…I’m sitting here crying like a baby…11 years ago next month, I sat right there in that hanger and watched with pride as my son graduated (thin and sick with severe bronchitis, but he graduated!). Ross will graduate (his first of 3 graduations most likely!) and you WILL cry and I will light a blue candle or two for the graduates as they begin their Navy careers! Thank you Suzanne and best wishes to you and your son!

  27. 8-10

    Yes, you will cry, as I did, when I went to my nephews graduation last year. In such a short amount of time, they become men. Such a proud time for mom and son! Congratulations Ross!

  28. 8-10

    Suzanne, this is a beautiful, touching story. Ross will do fine. Just fine. You will be so close to me! This is awesome. I live not 2 hour’s drive north of where you will be with Ross. I’ll be thinking of you all, and lighting a blue candle to burn the night.

  29. 8-10

    There will be a blue candle in Santa Barbara burning for Ross & his mates. :)

  30. 8-10

    Burning a blue candle in Louisiana for Ross and his mates. Be safe on the road trip.

  31. 8-10

    What a proud, proud mama you must be! No matter the outcome (though I have no doubt he will pass with flying colors) you have every right to be proud of your son and shout it from the rooftops! He sounds like a wonderful, quality person and I will be proud to have him defending our country! You need a little American flag gravatar…or something!

  32. 8-10

    I was 13 when I attended my cousins graduation at Great Lakes. I almost joined the Navy because of it. The whole ceremony is awe inspiring.

    Congratulations to Ross and to you for raising such a fine young man.

  33. 8-10

    Safe travels & a wonderful “little reunion” for you and your kiddums, Suzanne! It is a sad and exhilarating experience to first witness your child as an adult! Best wishes to you all!

  34. 8-10

    My husband works at the Navy base in Goose Creek (just retired from the Air Force in May). Ross will like South Carolina and you’ll enjoy having him not too awful far from home. Please feel free to keep my email address in case Ross ever has an emergency and needs a contact here in the Charleston/Goose Creek area. I know you must be so proud :) I’ll say a prayer for him tonight that his test goes well.

  35. 8-10

    Will be looking for a blue candle tonight – if I can’t find one I’ll keep good thoughts for “the boys.” Reading your post, I can feel your excitement! Good luck on the road trip.

  36. 8-10

    Have a safe trip Suzanne! Enjoy every moment with your wonderful and brave son! All the work you do on the farm, you deserve a mini vacation!

  37. 8-10

    Best wishes to Ross and the other boys and girls…..just off to light a candle here in the UK.

  38. 8-10

    GO ROSS !!! :sun: :snoopy: :shimmy: :sun:

  39. 8-10

    I will burn a blue candle tonight too. Not sure if the picture up there is of a homemade candle, but I’m thinking so because all my homemade ones have white wax on top like that too. I make a batch of candles and then melt some plain wax to poor a second layer on to top them off. I have faith that Ross will pass with flying colors!

  40. 8-10

    I am lighting a candle this evening for your sailor and all other sailors. I know Ross will pass. I sat here reading and crying knowing how proud you are of your son. He and all our military men make us so proud of what they do for our country. May you and your family have a safe trip!

  41. 8-10

    When my son went off to Marine Boot Camp, I thought for sure my life as a mom was over, he is my oldest and all of a sudden he was all grown up and not only a man, but a MARINE, and as they say, once a Marine, always a Marine. Even though things change, I am still his mom. It is funny how still today, married and with 3 children he will say such things as ” hey mom, watch this” or ” mom can you make this for me”, my wife does not make it the same. Which I remind him that I had more years of practise and he will be in the dog house if he does not stop saying such things. : ) . Have fun with your son, he will do fine, I bet he takes after his Mom, and know that he will always be your baby, no matter the age. Prayers for a safe and wonderful trip, I hope you remembered the kleenex.

  42. 8-10

    Congratulations, Suzanne. YOu must be so proud! Drive safely and have a wonderful time with your son!

  43. 8-10

    I will be praying for him, and for safe travel for you!

  44. 8-10

    Blue candle lit in NH for Ross, his division and all sailors who are away from home.

    With many thanks for their service, may they all come home safely.

  45. 8-10

    2200 in my time zone and candle lit – and shared this post on my Facebook page as well – the more blue candles tonight, the better :heart:

  46. 8-10

    For Ross and the rest of the guys working hard tonight.


  47. 8-11

    Blue candle re-lit at 0500 CDT. Couldn’t leave it overnight, but waking every few hours to pray for “the guys”. Have every confidence in them. Safe traveling.

  48. 8-11

    WOOHOO! Check Suzanne’s update at the end of her post – Ross is a sailor!

  49. 8-11

    I wish you were coming out this way for a different reason, because I would have driven over to meet you! Maybe another time you’ll have a reason to go out this way.

    Congrats Ross!

  50. 8-12

    Suzanne, thank you SO MUCH for posting the update. As silly as it is, I’ve been on pins and needles waiting to hear news of the child of a woman I’ve never met! I kept thinking, “but…but…how will we KNOW???”

    Congratulations, Ross. Bust a button, Suzanne!

  51. 8-12


  52. 8-12

    Congratulations, Suzanne! That’s wonderful news. Let Ross know how happy we are for him!

  53. 12-17

    Suzanne – I found your blog while searching for the history of burning blue candles for a Sailor. Navy4Moms has been a blessing! My son is at RTC now, PIR is 1/4/13. I started “burning” one (battery powered) shortly after he shipped and I learned of this tradition. I so appreciate your clear explanation and love the photo. When I first saw it, I had not yet received a letter from my son, so I didn’t know what to expect. His letters are now so valuable to me. My son’s TG will begin Battlestations in about 10 days. I think during that time, I’ll burn a real candle. I hope your son is finding life in the Navy, if he’s still in, to be all he’d hoped. Blessings to you and yours and Merry Christmas.

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