We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I’d be more interested in what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman tells his daughters about serving in the military than his tellingPresident Obama to accept the Nobel Peace Prize “on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century — the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.”
His young daughters, and President Obama’s, are about the same age as my older son.My son asks me if he should enlist.I answer that it will be his choice, there are important personal and citizenship benefits and prices, and the benefits may or may not work out for him and others.My son will make his own choice, and he will know from his father’s life that he can rely upon me to walk the talk, whether in a promise to him or by my example in how I live.He will decide if that is the suitable example for his way of living.
It is relevant to our children whether they’ve seen us walk the talk in our lives and with them when by our words we properly honor those who serve and may encourage others to serve. That neither Thomas Friedman nor President Obama chose to serve in the military, or that I did, is the past. The now our children see is how our words to others match our words to them.
Another top national columnist recently asked me, “if you'd ever had the thought that we are losing the best people our country has to offer” in our current wars.I replied:
What I would say is that in my experience in and with the military (I served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam and come in contact with many in my Encinitas area just south of Camp Pendleton), meeting and overcoming the challenges and realistic fears of enlisting, of training, and of serving in a war, all under the risk of severe harm or death, causes one, each one, to exert themself to rise to be the best Marine or soldier they can be. That creates a mature, focused person with a special appreciation for their citizenship and country and freedoms, as well as for the welfare of others one serves with and the people in the country serving in.
In short, it is their training and service and sacrifice that makes them, all who serve, the best we have to offer, and upon their return the best citizens. Those who fall are, thus, of course a severe loss.
The possible loss of one’s child is calamitous.So is the loss of others’.
If Thomas Friedman or President Obama do not believe that how they counsel their own children is more telling than how they counsel others’ children, that tells me all I need to know about whether they walk their talk, really care about others’ children, or are worth taking seriously.
If literally every effort is not made to support those who do serve to survive and accomplish the mission upon which sent, that is the most serious dereliction possible by a parent or columnist.Words may be enough for the Nobel Peace Prize, or a New York Times column, but not enough for any responsible parent.
I half-hoped, half-dreaded the possibility of my son's entry into the military. It turned out to be moot because of his asthma.
As compensation (since he was pretty much an expert on some aspects of military history by 8th grade), when he got to college he enrolled in the ROTC courses just because he loved the subject and he had room in his academic load. The other kids were mildly astonished. "Tell me again why you're here if you don't have to be?"
Some of his best friends came from that class. In fact, they invited him at graduation to attend their commissioning ceremony.
SecDef Gates swore them in because he'd been the speaker at graduation. He was an alum of William and Mary, too, and he choked up a bit as he recalled his undergrad days...long walks at night asking himself how he could be of service.
So my son never made it into the service. He says now he thinks the bureaucracy would've driven him crazy. He feels sorry for his friends who are serving a CIC who doesn't like the military.
I could not agree with you more - I wish I had the skills with language to express the same sentiments.
We also have to look beyond honor, duty, courage to something ever more important - discipline. In my own case, it was the discipline I learned at Paris Island and adhered to that allowed me to overcome a dark period a few years after my second tour and I was out in the work world. While I functioned well enough, I had several rounds with John Barleycorn which he won handily enough. I came close enough in the last round to be institutionalized and as it happened, my assigned counselor was also a former Marine who explained to me that duty, honor and courage also extended to me personally - that I owned it to myself to adhere to that code. Something clicked because I got through the worst of it - 34 years and never looked back.
I have one daughter in the Army Reserves, and an Army ROTC student at Penn State; our younger daughter took her Oath of Enlistment in the Army Reserves last THirsday; she's still in high school, and will leave for Basic on 23 June 2010.
My older daughter got a better package than the younger one; since recruiters met their targets very easily last year, recruitment incentives have been downgraded this year. That's unfortunate, but it isn't why my younger daughter enlisted.
Thank you for your comments. They're like the many email I receive from other friends, and received about this post.
Frankly, I could have cut the words short by simply saying I'm sick and tired of non-hackers' empty words, and incredibly saddened and angry by anyone -- in our services or others, military or civilian, here and abroad -- having to pay the price for such craven callowness.