ARLINGTON, Va. (ABC7) — He was just eight years old and being handed a folded flag by a commanding officer.
Christian Golczynski’s father was a Marine killed in combat in Iraq. The flag was the one that was draped over his father’s casket. A picture was taken and it went viral.
“At first I hated seeing that picture because I thought it made me look weak, vulnerable,” Golczynski says.
He’s now 21 and he is neither weak nor vulnerable, in fact he is a powerful force. Raised by a strong mother, and his father’s Marine comrades checking in on him.
At 18 he was the recipient of a scholarship for college from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.
“It means the world to me, not only financially, but also the fact I’m presented with so many opportunities in and out of school, and it’s my own second family.”
“We honor Marines and Navy Corpsmen by educating their children. Since 1962 we have provided 45 thousand scholarships worth over 135 million dollars” says Foundation President and retired Marine Lt. General Robert Ruark.
“When you meet someone like Christian who embodies everything his dad brought to the Corps and brought home, values of honor, courage, and commitment. You can see those in Christian.”
Ruark works to make sure young people like Christian get an education, but more than that. He says recipients become like family, just like the family he had among his fellow Marines.
“I often thought when I retired that I was leaving the family and I won’t have anything like it again, but this scholarship foundation is as close as I can ever get to that family again.”
The Foundation right now is taking applications for this years candidates, and Gen. Ruark says the Foundation has had amazing success with so many of these young people especially because some are the first in their family to go to college.
“Ninety percent of our students graduate. Over half are first generation college students.”
Christian has grown up without a father, yet he admits he has his dad’s warrior spirit. He is now a senior at the University of Alabama, and already has a job lined up in Dallas when he graduates. He is so appreciative of everything the Foundation has done for him and his family, and he says not a day goes by he doesn’t think about his father and the lessons he instilled in him, “the Marine Corps values, honor, commitment, and courage.”