As a consistent hawk on the Global War on Terror I have often heard “Well if you’re so gung ho about the war why don’t you go fight it yourself?” The truth be told I have given serious consideration to doing just that several times. Unfortunately each time I come to the conclusion that at my age and with my doughy physique I wouldn’t cut it in the Service. Even the lowliest Marine, the weakest airman, sailor or grunt could easily wipe the floor with me. It’s not something I’m proud of, but Truth trumps Pride – or at least it should at my age.
I’ve also come to realize that there is something much worse than putting yourself in danger: it’s putting a loved one there.
According to his girlfriend, my stepson – a Master Sergeant in the Corps – will be shipping “out” of Pendleton much sooner than we thought. It’s a secret where “out” is at this point, but I doubt he’s deploying to Canada or Japan.
He has a girlfriend and children. In my eyes he is full of untapped potential that the Corps has missed. He is a soldier intellectual without knowing it, an avid historian who remembers long-forgotten wars and draws his own, unique conclusions. He would excel in an academic setting, especially one with a strong military bearing like the Navy Academy or West Point.
He was one of the first Marines into Afghanistan in 2001. He has been to Iraq and holds opinions about the locals that are so politically incorrect that I shudder to hear them. He has a sense of duty that I admire, and a sense of humor that I envy. He is strong, self-assured, handsome and brave – all the things necessary to make women swoon and men follow him without hesitation into battle. If your son is a Marine, my stepson is the man you want leading him.
When discussing death he is nonchalant, stating that he wishes to be buried in Arlington so that his service to our nation isn’t forgotten. He reminds us that he has willfully chosen this path, and that he did not join the Corps for its safety and security.
But I don’t think he understand that his comments are blows to the gut for his mother and me. In fact, he’s excited about going. It’s easier to make the choices for a child than watch him make his own, and suffer the consequences. But we’re proud of him all the same.