May 26, 2008
This is one of my favorite pictures of my father, receiving the Good Conduct Medal, which he makes light of but which I believe is remarkable. He is so young, yet he has such a world-weary look about him. My father was in the Navy during the Vietnam war, an electrical engineer on a nuclear submarine. He was nineteen when he enlisted, and during the next seven years he met and married my mother, my brother was born, and my father's service was involuntarily extended for a year. He was on patrol three months at a time, and my mom took care of my newborn brother in South Carolina, where they were stationed, and where she had neither family nor friends. They never complain about this time in their lives; in fact, they both speak of it fondly. I cannot overstate my admiration for their stoicism. (I inherited none of that. I think it skips a generation, like twins or baldness.)
My father sometimes calls me a pinko, commie, tree-hugging liberal, and I'm okay with that. We spar politically, but I always know he sacrificed far more than I ever will for our country's ideals. Still, I ache for those families who have lost loved ones, temporarily or permanently, to wars waged in the name of oil or vengeance. I may be naive, but I find it incomprehensible that we still address our differences by killing one another. Nonetheless, I admire and am grateful to those who risk their lives for principles with which they may not agree. Yes, I know, this topic is a bit complicated for my little blog, but let me share one fantasy: any acting President who decides war is necessary must select one member of their immediate family to report to active duty; two if it's a "preemptive strike." Can you imagine if Dubya had to send the twins to the Green Zone in Baghdad?