As I type this entry, our second-born (20) is at the MEPS station. He is getting a physical, taking a test, and at some point will surely see really cool videos showing the heroic, tough “bazooka joe.” “Bazooka joe” is heroic, but so are the engineers, the transportation folks, the intel folks and all of the rest. I hope he sticks to his plans and holds out for the job he wants.
As my second son begins the final stages of Army enlistment, I am looking at our family and pondering who and what we are. There seems to be a bit of misconception out there. My own mom recently told our son that, “there are other things you can do besides join the military. you can go to school…..”
This statement, while factual, shows a view of my sons’ choices that totally misses the point. Somehow my mom, and many others, believe that enlisting in the military, prior to college, is what you do when you have no other options. She (and they) do not, perhaps cannot, see military service as a legitimate first choice. Yes, my sons both considered attending college prior to enlisting. Yes, they thought about ROTC and the like. But they both decided that they want to enlist first. Serve first. They want time “out in the world” before college so they better know what they’d like to study, what they’d like to do with the rest of their lives. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It isn’t the most traditional way of doing things, but it is legitimate and I am terribly proud of my sons for having the strength, courage and conviction to make such a decision. I am not surprised by their strength, courage and conviction, though. You see, I married and raised Sheepdogs.
LTC (Ret) Dave Grossman, Ph.D., wrote a piece some time ago called On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs.
Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? – William J. Bennett – in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:
“Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.”
….. Please, read the rest HERE.
So yes, I married and raised Sheepdogs. I am quite proud of that. I am proud that this is a first choice my sons are making. Am I worried? You bet. Our oldest son is in Iraq. Iraq is a very dangerous place. Every service member and civilian deployed there faces danger daily. Some people are in more dangerous places than others. My son is one of those people. My husband is in Iraq. He too faces danger daily.
And now our second son is enlisting. He’s looking forward to possibly being deployed to Iraq… yes, looking forward to it. Regardless of popular opinion, as expressed by various polls, my son sees a lot of possibility to do good for Americans, for the Iraqis and for the world. He is anxious to do his part if he is called upon to do it.
How in the world did a selfish woman like me raise 2 sons with this kind of selflessness and courage? I have no idea! All I know is that I married a Sheepdog and I have raised Sheepdogs. Thanks be to God.
The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him,
but because he loves what is behind him.
What I Saw in America