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Matt Graduates From Army Infantry Training
— His family joins him in the Peach State —

Matt Turns Blue

Matt graduated infantry training in August — a rite called "turning blue." Cherie attached his blue cords on the parade field of Fort Benning, Georgia after giving him hugs and kisses (he'd been gone 15 weeks!)

A mother-son bonding experience

Hard to tell who is having a prouder moment this day

The family reunites

and the ceremonies begin

Even the neighbors, Shari and Paul, came to watch Matt's graduation!

Matt Participates in an Infantry Demo

He opted for a battle demonstration in his forest camoflage rather than parading in his Class A uniform.

The infantry to the rescue

Matt's platoon charges

Matt, center, and buddies display their weapons

while Cherie looks on intently.

Matt covers his buddies' retreat

And the troops remount

And Then It's Time to Say Goodbye

Matt and his "battle buddy" Steve

Matt says a "fond" farewell to his drill sergeant

We visit the U.S. Army Infantry Museum at Fort Benning.

Mike and Cherie explore the inside of an armored personnel carrier. Shape up, there, soldiers!

After Army chow, any civilian food tastes good

Shelley surprised Matt by showing up for his graduation. (She reportedly forgot to unplug her hair dryer before leaving Michigan and the whole northeast went dark, but that's another story). After the ceremonies, we got to vacation together in Columbus, Warm Springs, and Atltanta. First stop...the restaurants. We think Matt was desparately attempting to make up for four months of depravation in a two-day eating fest in Columbus.

Aunt Shelley loves her new soldier

Matt sates his appetite at Applebee's

Shari and Paul are the apple of each other's eyes

Celebrating Matt's freedom at Old Mill Towne Restaurant

Next stop...Warm Springs

Warm Springs, a few miles northeast of Fort Benning, was the home of Franklin Roosevelt's "Little White House," where he spent time recuperating at the hot spring spa and relaxing in his rustic cabin in the woods.

Shelley stands by the sign marking the entrance to Roosevelt's Little White House. The grounds include the house, servants' quarters, a guest house, guard shacks for the secret service and Marine Corps, a garage, and park grounds.

The entrance to the residence leads to the guest and servant quarters...

And on to the White House, where Matt, Cherie, and Mike make visitors welcome

The living room, with the desk and chair at which he was sitting for his final, and still unfinished portrait...

FDR's wheelchair waits by the front door. It reminds visitors of the indominable will of the man who steered the nation out of the depression and through a World War in two theaters.

The pools are dried up now, but with a little imagination one can still hear the splashing of FDR and his handicapped "kids"

Ahem, watch those hands!?!
Matt, Cherie, and Mike dip their hands in the remaining trickle of theraputic spring water. Of course M&M got into a water fight shortly after.

On to Atlanta...home of the Braves
Nope, we didn't come all this way just to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Atlanta Braves (thank goodness, as they lost 10-6), but it was a nice touch to root for the home team in a sea of hatchet-handed Braves fans. The other major attractions were the CNN headquarters and the World of Coke, both Atlanta home-grown products. And then, of course, there was the food...

News in the Making
The CNN Center is impressive — several stories of studios, news desks, video archives, offices, and even shops and restaurants. (Shelley, thanks for the photo from the top of Peachtree Center)
We saw mock ups of a control center and blue-screen weather studio, and the live studios for CNN news, Headline News, and CNN.com news.

World of Coke
Cherie gets bear hugs at the Coca-Cola display in the heart of Atlanta
...And on Top of the Word
We rode to the top of the Westin Peachtree to get the best views of the city. At left the CNN center sits between the Georgia Dome and Olympic Park.
Shelley sent us on a 73-story elevator bungee ride—bouncing up and down the side of the world's tallest hotel.

Did someone mention food?

" That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! "
Mike and Matt dig into their celebratory lobster dinner in downtown Atlanta.

In their 20's, they still play with their food.

The family yucks it up at the restaurant

But alas, all good things must come to an end.

Shelley kisses Matt goodbye on her way out to the airport.
Matt was soon to follow on his way back to Arizona for a home town recruiting trip.

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