By Scott St. Clair | The Save Jersey Blog
On the day before Independence Day, I stumbled upon a Facebook post by a mom helping her college-age son – “My baby boy” she called him – prepare to go off to ROTC summer camp. She said typical mom stuff about helping him find regulation sunglasses, assuring that he had enough warm socks and, what struck me hard because I’m there, too, is her closing lament that hers were “all meager attempts to say I wish I could still protect you. Instead of you going off to work to protect us all.”
Gut punch, or what? But especially as we head into the July 4th holiday, the celebration of the national birthday where most of us will spend a few extra days in leisure and enjoyment – we’re headed off for a couple days in Amish country in Pennsylvania – those kids of ours are manning posts, monitoring computer screens, crewing ships, maintaining equipment and doing their jobs so we can take time off from ours.
The child who, what seems like only a moment ago, was wobbling about trying to learn to ride a bike as you ran alongside to protect him from harm in the inevitable fall, is now grown and bearing arms against a sea of our nation’s troubles to oppose them thus preventing what would otherwise be our inevitable fall. Who’s is the bigger task?
Among my children, step-children and children-in-law are four either serving members of the military, national guardsmen or veterans, and I think about how, in the ultimate final analysis, our safety and security is in the hands of mostly 18 to 25-year-old kids – the nation’s children – who VOLUNTEER for the job.
Parents spend the better part of two decades protecting their kids only to have them turn around to take up the job of protecting us. When the question goes forth, “Who will step up to do it?” the answer comes from the back of the room, sometimes from a kid we might not have ever thought would amount to much, the ultimate response of a willing servant, “Here am I, take me.”
This past year saw us with one in Afghanistan for the third time (six war-zone deployments overall) and one in Qatar for his first in a thermometer-busting hell hole. Both have since returned, with the one now at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and the other home playing video games with his brother and drinking wine with his fiancé.
In the modern military, young women also raise their hands to swear an oath. My oldest son is an army master sergeant with 14 year’s service, one-third of it spent deployed to one sandbox or another, and his wife is a navy veteran. They met when both were deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. Seeing pictures of your daughter-in-law in camo-patterned utilities wearing body armor and a helmet is jarring even if she’s having fun with a bunch of Afghani children.
It’s fashionable in the elite salons of the liberal intelligentsia to heap scorn upon these young men and women – “a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as ‘heroes’” – claiming, instead, that what keeps America strong and free are social workers and government welfare programs.
Whatever scorn there is to be heaped, let it be upon the heads of such ingrates and cowards, especially since they’re never seen within miles of a recruiting office nor can they be counted upon to put their bodies between us and those bent on attacking us to destroy our freedoms and way of life.
I’m pretty certain that the thousands upon thousands interred at Arlington National Cemetery and other similar burial grounds across the nation and around the world died in such a way that the appellation “hero” applies without anyone being able to claim it’s “childlike.”
Politicians and generals can plot and scheme to no good end, diplomats can bungle us into disastrous conflicts, crony capitalists can become rich beyond the dreams of avarice in the profiteering and critics can abuse their freedoms by looking down upon those who serve, but in the final analysis – when the real shit hits the fan – we are dependent upon our children to carry the load, do the dirty work and pull our foolish chestnuts out of the fire.
Without them – without hundreds of thousands of baby boys and baby girls – we wouldn’t have any independence or freedom or a country at all. When you picnic or watch fireworks this July 4th weekend, think on that for a moment – I’d take it as a personal favor.