Many adults, when they learn that my son is in the Marine Corps, adopt an expression of mingled sorrow and confusion, as though they can instantly foretell the dire consequences he faces. These adults are usually ones who have no military experience—they’ve only lived vicariously through the eyes of another or, more probable, have absorbed the bunk spurted by most of today’s American media and can only picture that abounding horrors and horrific boredom await him in some desolate, primitive land.
That, to me, is an interesting response. I know that what he faces is hard, and please hear me when I say that I appreciate their care and their concern for him and for us—but I wish they could see, no, could experience the reactions I often receive from those who were in the military.
Those adults I know who served seem to almost brim with pride. Invariably they stand straighter and their eyes brighten. You can hear excitement when they say, “Really? Where’s he stationed?”
I pray that when my son is discharged, he looks back on his service time with pride, knows he performed well for a noble exercise in the preservation of freedoms known nowhere else in the world.
And if his time in the service ends in his death, I and the rest of his family will know deep sorrow but not regret, true heartache but not woe, lamentation but not anguish. Our grief will be real, but it will not be lasting for we will see him again. And that is not an empty hope, an “Oh, well if that makes them feel better”–type wishful thinking.
Picture it this way: Bill Gates is the loving uncle you’ve known all your life and he calls you one day to tell you that he set up a bank account in your name that would always have a $10,000,000 balance for use at your discretion. Would you tell him “Thank you” by being hourly concerned about whether or not you were going to be able to buy tomorrow’s groceries? Or would you pay off the house, buy a new car, and throw a huge dinner party in his honor?
Why can we believe the promises of a man, even a wealthy and powerful one, whose life and fortunes are tenuous at best yet not believe the solid promises of the Almighty Creator of all that is?