Mauri Lovè Harris reports for duty on July 21, continuing a family legacy that goes back to her great-grandfather’s time as a sailor. When she enters the U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes, Illinois, she will, in fact, become the fourth generation of her family to serve in the military, a tradition that also includes numerous cousins, uncles, and other relatives.
“Mauri’s gung-ho about it,” said her mother, Janice Lemon, a Navy veteran herself. Mauri’s father, Marvin Harris, served 24 years in the Navy before retiring.
After recruit training, the 2020 Marble Falls High School graduate reports to Naval Air Station Pensacola for training as an aircrew survival equipmentman. She’ll learn to rig parachutes and repair lifesaving equipment and other special gear used by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps special operations and flight and air units.
“It feels very good to know your child is following your footsteps,” Marvin Harris said. “It’s more so rewarding to me knowing she is willing to make the necessary steps to secure her future and a better life.”
Mauri said her dad promoted the benefits of being in the military throughout her childhood.
“It was pushed,” she said, “but I never felt like that was the only option.”
A trip to Japan two years ago sealed her decision. She experienced the culture, cuisine, and history of another country and longed for more, which she knew the military could provide.
“It was a good experience going abroad,” Mauri said. “It was fun.”
She considered enlisting in the U.S. Air Force like her cousin Gage M. Lemon, but ultimately chose to follow her parents’ path.
Her father joined the Navy, he said, “to get away from the small town I was raised in.”
“I’ve never been afraid of the danger, just took things one day at a time,” he continued. “The military allowed me to see different cultures and see the world. The job security and benefits were something I didn’t have to worry about, unlike regular civilians.”
He served 24 years and 28 days in the Navy. Today, he is a civilian special security officer for the U.S. Army in Kuwait.
“The military molded me into the professional I am today, being that was the only job I’ve had,” he said. “But the training and jobs I’ve held while on active duty made my transition into the civilian world fairly easy.”
Mom Janice Lemon’s two older brothers, John and Jason, and her nephew Gregory Lemon and cousin Donald Lemon all served in the Navy as well.
The Lemon military service goes back at least two more generations. Janice’s father and Mauri’s grandfather, John Lemon Jr., served in the U.S. Army. And Mauri’s great-grandfather, John Lemon Sr., served in the U.S. Navy.
“It’s family pride, it’s family history,” Janice said. “It’s a beautiful thing to serve your country.”
Janice met Marvin when the two were both in the Navy. Once they started a family, Janice chose to end her military commitment after four years to prioritize her family.
She believes every American should spend at least one year in the military because it teaches discipline, trust, and teamwork.
“You serve one year, and you have structure,” she said. “It’s an overwhelming structure. You think differently. You have different tactics in life.”
Mauri said the only advice she received from her parents regarding military service also applies to life in general.
“Follow instructions and carry yourself with respect,” she said.
Janice and Marvin know their daughter will do great in the Navy.
“I just want Mauri to cherish this experience and make the best out of her decision,” her dad said. “Whatever she puts her mind to, she’ll do it. I support her 1,000 percent.”