My son became a soldier last week.
I was privileged to watch him swear his oath to defend our country. I was a bit disturbed when he had to vow to obey the orders of the President because I rarely, if ever, agree with most of the actions our Presidents take. I’m proud of my son because he is able to set aside his personal political views in order to do a job so many of us have never experienced.
It seems so often that the life of our soldiers — what they endure, and what they have to give up — goes unnoticed and unappreciated by so many as they focus on how right or wrong war is, or try to prove why their political party is ‘better’ or ‘more correct’.
Before Vader was sworn in, I talked to him about this choice he wanted to make, bringing up the very real possibility that war may be coming. I wasn’t discussing it because I didn’t want him to join — I believe the choices my adult children make are very much their own and they need to know their mother supports them — but I wanted to make sure he’d thought it through on many levels. And he had. He explained what he thought about serving in wartime, how his weekly training through Future Soldiers had helped prepare him for the likelihood of serving during a war, and helped me understand that he had peace about his decision. We talked about how our relationship will transition from mentoring into friendship and he liked that idea and the freedom it holds.
I don’t feel anymore that Vader chose the Army to please his father or to try to have some connection to him. I realize that this choice comes from somewhere else inside Vader and I deeply respect it.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have times where I’m afraid, or I wonder if he made the right choice, but I know that’s my emotional mommy trying to take over what I know to be true: this is what Vader wanted to do.
It hurts me to see people post things on social media about how soldiers are just killing machines, or that they are murderers. I suppose some people can’t really understand the oath our troops swear until we’re watching our own kids doing it. My son promised to carry out the orders of our President and Congress, period. He will do it no matter what his personal feelings might be at the time. He will do it with honor and courage borne from his incredible sense of duty to the country he loves.
I miss my son. His first several weeks in boot camp require no contact with us. I spend a lot of time wondering where he is, what he’s doing, and how he’s faring. I pray for him many times throughout the day and trust that the God I love and serve goes with Vader and will keep him safe.
Every one of our troops is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s husband or wife, someone’s daddy or mommy. They are human beings living and working apart from their families to defend our country, to defend us.
My son isn’t a killing machine – he’s a man of honor who stepped up to the plate to carry out a job so many of us would never do, but love to criticize.
Here at home we’re staying Army Strong because that’s what he taught us and that’s what our soldier needs.
I’m so thankful to love a soldier.