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The Few…

April 23, 2008


The Family has been reeling with some, shall I say, “impacting” news of late. Lovely Wife is the older of 7. The youngest brother, without much discussion, enlisted. He left for San Diego on Monday.

The reaction with the Family has been mixed, and a little strange. I am married into the Family, so I still, even after ten years, have an outsider’s sense. The immediate members, LW, her twin and the sisters were all adamantly against enlistment. “Why would you enlist when we are at war?” “What are you thinking…?” Those sorts of questions.

The brothers and uncles, though, have a more jaundiced view: “It will do him good.” “He needs direction…” That sort of thing.

So, he was feted over the weekend and shipped off.

We did not go to the fete. In fact, LW cried off and on, mourning her little brother, fearful of how the experience will play out with him. We both acknowledge/understand the current deployment pressures: stop-loss, extended tours, multiple deployments. No one else in the family, though, seems to accept these as facts. “Once Bush is out of office, things will be better.” “He will be in Korea, not in Iraq.” “Things will be fine.”

I don’t think our family is unique in this sort of behavior, and I am ambivalent about his enlistment myself. Do I honor service? Yes. My freedoms come at a great cost. Do I think the service our soldiers give is well repaid to them? Not even close (VA neglect, lack of adequate equipment, the list is long and sad). Do I want my brother-in-law in the middle of the current mess? Not in the least.

I will address the “letters to the mothers” tomorrow.

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One Comment
  1. Anonymous permalink
    June 19, 2008 5:02 pm

    I’ve had a similar experience: a coworker volunteered for the Army, and I asked if that was a good idea.

    “The way Bush is talking, we’ll be out of Iraq in a few months,” she said. The year was 2005.

    People get to do what they want. Some people just trust institutions and ideology, and we can’t change that — i.e. the “He needs direction” quote.

    I met a mother of a Marine in Iraq, and she said, “Things are going better than they say in the news.” I chose to not compare the statistics of bombings, murders, kidnappings of the Saddam Era to the Occupation Era. Obviously, statistical analysis would tell us that things are very bad in Iraq, worse than under Saddam, and that if anything, the media coverage hasn’t communicated how violent and chaotic Iraqi society has become.

    I had a friend who said that people that volunteer are “just stupid.” I agree in the sense that many volunteers don’t gather all the facts of military service, and that a rational person would not be attracted to war-making. But there is something necessary and good about people willing to forgo their own interests for the better (even if the US military’s occupation of Iraq may not benefit us much at all). In this sense I appreciate others’ service, although lament that their service often forces them to commit violence and suffer greatly, as well as to lose life and limb.

    One can’t really do much, I guess; Tennyson:

    Theirs was not to make reply,
    Theirs was not to reason why,
    Theirs was but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    –schencka.mindsay.com

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