"John is my heart"........

"John is my heart"........

(An emotive article by a father, Frank Schaeffer, in the Washington Post.)

"Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was defending me. Now when I read of the war on terrorism, or the coming conflict in Iraq, it cuts to my heart. When I see a picture of a member of our military who has been killed, I read his or her name very carefully. Sometimes I cry.
In 1999, when the barrel-chested Marine recruiter showed up in dress blues & bedazzled my son John, I did not stand in the way. John was headstrong & he seemed to understand these stern, clean men with straight backs & flawless uniforms. I did not. I live in the Volvo-driving, higher education-worshiping North Shore of Boston. I write novels for a living. I have never served in the military. It had been hard enough sending my two older children off to Georgetown & New York University. John's enlisting was unexpected, so deeply unsettling. I did not relish the prospect of answering the question, "So where is John going to college?" from the parents who were itching to tell me all about how their son or daughter was going to Harvard. At the private high school John attended, no other students were going into the military. "But aren't the Marines terribly Southern?" (Says a lot about open-mindedness in the Northeast), asked one perplexed mother, while standing next to me at the brunch following graduation. "What a waste, he was such a good student," said another parent. One parent, (a Professor at a nearby & rather famous University), spoke up at a school meeting & suggested that the school should “carefully evaluate what went wrong."
When John graduated from three months of boot camp on Parris Island, 3,000 parents & friends were on the parade deck stands. We parents & our Marines, not only were of many races, but also were representative of many economic classes. Many were poor. Some arrived crammed in the backs of pickups, others by bus. John told me that a lot of parents could not afford the trip.
We in the audience were white & Native American. We were Hispanic, Arab & African American & Asian. We were former marines, wearing the scars of battle, or at least baseball caps emblazoned with battles' names. We were Southern whites from Nashville & skinheads from New Jersey, black kids from Cleveland wearing ghetto rags & white ex-cons with ham-hock forearms defaced by jailhouse tattoos. We would not have been mistaken for the educated & well-heeled parents gathered on the lawns of John’s private school a half-year before. After graduation, one new Marine told John, "Before I was a Marine, if I had ever seen you on my block, I would've probably killed you, just because you were standing there." This was a serious statement from one of John’s good friends, a black ex-gang member from Detroit who, as John said, "would die for me now, just like I'd die for him."
My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish & insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local diner than to some of my oldest friends She has two sons in the Corps. They are facing the same dangers as my boy. When the guy who fixes my car asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in the Navy.
Why were I & the other parents at my son's private school, so surprised by his choice? During World War II, the sons & daughters of the most powerful & educated families did their bit. If the idea of the immorality of the Vietnam War was the only reason those lucky enough to go to college dodged the draft, why did we not encourage our children to volunteer for military service once that war was done?
Have we wealthy & educated Americans all become pacifists? Is the world a safe place? Or have we just gotten used to having somebody else defend us? What is the future of our democracy when the sons & daughters of the janitors at our elite universities are far more likely to be put in harm’s way, than are any of the students whose dorms their parents clean?
I feel a shame, because it took my son's joining the Marine Corps to make me take notice of who is defending me. I feel hope, because perhaps my son is part of a future "greatest generation." As the storm clouds of war gather, at least I know that I can look the men & women in uniform in the eye. My son is one of them. He is the best I have to offer.
John is my heart.
Faith is not about everything turning out okay;
Faith is about being okay, no matter how things turn out.
Oh, how I wish so many of our younger generations could read this article. It makes me so sad to hear the way they talk with no respect for what their fathers, grandfathers & great grandfathers experienced, so they can live in freedom.
"Freedom" has been replaced with "Free-Dumb".

Think about it....


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