Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Would You Want Your Son to Join the Marines?

I remember the Viet Nam era, when our servicemen came home and were blamed for the war. Today, we recognize the courage and sacrifice of our fighting forces, while still finding war itself upsetting and painful.

But what do you do if your 18-year-old decides he might want to join the Marines? When he turned 18 he received all the branches' brochures, but now, he's talking to a Marine recruiter. This puts me, as a parent, in a strange position. I hate war, as many people do. I also understand that as long as there are more than two people, there will be disagreements, and that some of these will escalate into armed conflict. I appreciate our fighting forces, who defend my rights and my freedom. But I balk at sending my own son off to possibly lose a limb or an eye--or his mind.

This reminds me of racist statements in years gone by--"But would you want your daughter (son) to marry one?" We want others to do the right thing even if we're hesitant (I did "marry one.") Wanting to protect your child from harm is natural for a parent--but where are these defenders of democracy going to come from if nobody volunteers? It's almost like I appreciate the idea of the military more than the reality of it. I'll bet many others feel the same way.

When your kid is no longer a child, you have to let him go. But I can't help worrying that's he's making the wrong choice--and that he may live to regret it. Or worse, he may not live at all. The Marines are a proud and patriotic few--and deserve our respect. But it's a very hard road to walk.

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