Pvt. Brett Parker joins brother Clay Aiken as 'American Idol'
By Lance Cpl. Justin Shemanski
| | September 19, 2004
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Volunteering their time and helping others is a large part of many Americans lives, but as they grow and mature, the way in which they choose to contribute to society can differ a great deal. Some do their part by making monetary donations to charities while others become members of their local police force or fire department as a way to give back to their communities. Some even use their status as celebrities to help others in need, such as singer and American Idol finalist Clay Aiken, who is a part of the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, which serves to help young people with developmental disabilities become a bigger part of today's society. Brett Parker, Aiken's brother, like thousands of other young men and women across the country, felt that military service was the best opportunity to give back to not only their hometowns, but to their entire country.When Parker saw the twin towers of the World Trade Center fall three years ago, it only helped cement his decision to enlist in the Marine Corps and it was a decision that led him to receive the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor pin from his drill instructors of Plt. 1072, Bravo Co., 1st RTBn. on the Peatross Parade Deck Sept. 09."Brett had been serious about going into the service since he was 14 years old," said Faye Aiken Parker, Clay and Brett's mother. "At first I thought he was just saying it to irritate me and I figured he would grow out of it and lot of others thought he was just doing it to get a little of the attention that his brother was receiving, but that's not the case at all. He did it to help others ... he did it for himself."Brett will also say that he did it simply because of his respect for the Marine Corps. He said it was what the Marines have been through and the wisdom that the Marines before him have to share that helped make the Corps the obvious choice between the other branches of service, giving him the best opportunity to serve his country in a far different way than his brother Clay."We just found out the other day who his brother was," said Gunnery Sgt. Arthur Lacewell, senior drill instructor of Plt. 1072. "We were at Recruit Photo paying bills when the photographer said he heard Clay on the radio talking about his brother graduating from Bravo Company."Drill instructors will often use information like this against a recruit, but Lacewell saw it differently."It shows he has a great sense of patriotism in his country," said Lacewell. "He joined because he felt it was something he had to do, no matter what his brother was doing. He was also one of my better recruits too. If I needed something done throughout training, I called on him quite a bit and knew I could depend on him to get it done."But even though Brett and his brother may have their differences, they still show strong support for what one another is doing."I broke the news to Clay when we were out to dinner in Charlotte [N.C.]," said Brett. "At first he tucked his head to his chest, but then he looked up and said, 'I knew it.' Since I was in 10th grade I've been really serious about the military, but I think my family just prayed I would grow out of it. But they all became really supportive when they came to terms with my decision and realized it wasn't just a phase."Brett could clearly see the support of his brother during training, by the number of letters he received from him."My brother wrote me more letters than anyone," said Brett. "His letters were good because his letters were about everything. He didn't just talk about the big things that happened, but the little things too that no one else would have written about. It was like talking to him on the phone and it brought me that much closer to home."Brett even has the support of Clay's fans, dubbed the "Claymates." They have been handing out yellow ribbon pins at his concerts in support of Brett and the rest of the troops and according to Faye, they plan to patriotically decorate the Parkers home to welcome him home to Raleigh, N.C."The lord has blessed both of my children in completely different ways and they are both using what they were given to help others," she said. " Clay does a lot of charity work and now Brett is proudly serving his country. Of course I have my worries and concerns for both of them, but I couldn't be prouder of them