For many reasons, some very obvious and others not so much, I was never in the military. I have always been proud that my father served in the Marines – even more so that he was involved in one of the most historic battles of American history. It was on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima that he was wounded, which eventually led to the loss of his right leg. It was a sacrifice that not only changed his life but it had a profound impact on the things he taught me about life and living with a physical disability.
However, as a young man coming of age in the late sixties, thinking about being in the military was not a popular notion. We were involved in a very controversial “police action” (actually never officially labeled as a war) and many of my peers were asked to give their life for questionable reasons. I am confident that even if I had the physical ability, I would not have sought out the military as an option for my life.
In spite of my history, it will be correct to say if everything goes as planned, next week I will be in the United States Army. Technically, not me, but my youngest son Andrew. If you are a parent, you know that when one of your children is involved in something, you might as well be there yourself. The Army is about to take on a new role in my life and it will suddenly become much more important to Sharon and me.
Although the military was not for me, I am extremely proud of Andrew. I am equally proud of all three of my sons, by the way, so don’t worry about the other two being neglected, but today we are talking about Andrew.
I think the Army will be the perfect fit for Andrew. He seems to have the right personality and the type of qualities that will make him a very good soldier. Since he already has a good education, a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology and will begin as a 2nd Lieutenant, I expect he will be a Four Star General in short order. I will be waiting for a phone call someday soon from the White House with Andrew telling me that he is advising the Commander in Chief.
Andrew will be a great representative of our country. He is the type of young man that everyone in our country can point to with pride and claim, “that is the kind of young people we produce in our nation.” More important, he has done our family proud. From the earliest days of school all the way through graduate school he has received the highest grades. He was always one of the best athletes when he participated in organized sports. He is physically fit and I suspect he will breeze through Basic Training and Officer Candidate School.
When he was a teenager, Andrew decided he wanted to play the piano. We did not have a piano and I was not too interested in purchasing a piano in the hopes that he would actually learn. Instead, I gave him an electronic keyboard and suggested we would find out if he was serious. He spent hours every day on the keyboard and it soon became obvious that he would accomplish this goal. We bought a piano and today people are stunned when they hear him at the piano performing a Mozart piece or some other classic.
That is why I am not worried about him doing well in the Army. When he is determined to accomplish something, he gets it done. I don’t know if they still use this slogan, but the Army used to recruit young men and women by encouraging them to “be all you can be – join the Army.” I have no doubt that Andrew will be all that he can be in whatever environment he chooses. In this case, it is the Army that will benefit from his best.
The family is gathering this evening for dinner and a send off since Andrew is leaving tomorrow morning. I know the family well enough to know there will a lot of laughing, some good natured ribbing, great food, and more than a few tears. Sharon and I have already adjusted to Andrew being away from home since he has spent the past three years in Chicago, but we still wish we could be with him, wherever the Army sends him.
I have often thought of my father as an eighteen-year-old young man, snatched up by the Marines, trained as quickly as possible, and sent off with a rifle to fight a war. Although he suffered loss, Daddy survived and has thrived very well in life. We are sending Andrew off much better prepared. It does not mean he will not have challenges and that he will avoid suffering. However, I am confident that he is capable of handling the challenge. I am eager to see what all he can be – in the Army.
We don’t know what his job will be in the Army, but whatever it is, he will be one of the best. The Army will take care of his physical needs, his marvelous wife Carey will be there to provide the support and strength that only a wife can give. I also want him to know that he will always have my prayers and encouragement. He can also be confident that he will always be a source of pride for this father. I never expected it to happen, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m in the Army now.