I was selfish. I am not ashamed to admit. However, I am ashamed and disappointed in my actions.
It started on 07 February 1983 when I stepped onto the footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. I went on to give four years to the Marines. I served during peace time and had an uneventful but successful tour. I came out a different man than when I entered. For that I will always be grateful.
Fast forward to 20 Jan 1995. My son was born.
Now move forward to 19 March 2001. The United States invades Iraq. Even though my son was only six at the time, I thought there was potential that the conflict would still be active when he became of age to serve. I was scared for my son. I consciously made a decision not mention my military service. I also made a decision to tuck the war in the corner and not make note of it in our home. I kept a distance from any coverage and news reports. I made sure I put no faces to those Americans fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. In our home, I made as if the war didn’t exist.
My son is now 18.
A few weeks ago I wrote a fictional story about a mother receiving the journal of her son who was killed in Iraq. In my mind, the story didn’t end with that particular post. It only began. I researched the battles in Iraq in order to add historical accuracy to my story. That research lead me to You Tube where I watched countless clips of returning fallen Americans and their journey from Dover AFB to their respective hometowns. Hundreds to thousands of people lined city streets and rural road to pay tribute to these men and women. I listened to servicemen honored with the highest awards given by our country for valor. I was deeply affected by all I have learned about this generation of our military.
As a kid, I remember watching Walter Cronkite end his nightly newscast with how many had died in Viet Nam that day along the total dead. It had a profound affect on me and was a big reason I joined the military those many years later. However, I didn’t want my son to follow the same path. I selfishly decided that our family had given enough to this country. Not only hadI had served but so did my father in WW II. I didn’t bring this war into our home. I didn’t want any seed planted. I didn’t want my son to serve. I did what I thought was right for my family.
I accomplished my mission. Regardless of my reasons, I am ashamed of myself. I don’t know if what I did was unpatriotic. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. Actually, I don’t know what to think or say other than I am sorry not to have acknowledged the sacrifice of so many serving our country in this war.
I was selfish.
This was written for Yeah Write #100. Limit 500 words.