I am opposed to war. I actually think it’s wrong. Wrong as in it comes under the category of child abuse. Wrong as in might does not make right. It makes fear.
As a writer, a crafter of words, a communicator, I believe that humans are capable of greater destinies than war and violence. I believe that because we can speak, we are able to understand differences, appreciate them, even learn from them. I believe that. Deeply.
Yesterday, I was watching Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff talk on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. He looked so ordinary this Mike Mullen. I could imagine standing next to him in the checkout line in HEB. I could imagine putting that divider thing between our groceries and smiling at him. Really. Here was a man who was grappling with two wars and issues far beyond my ten thousand square feet of land in Austin, Texas and I wondered what it would be like to be him. I wondered what it would be like to be the named leader of tens of thousands men and woman in uniform serving in those wars.
That’s when I began to think about the soldiers he led. I wondered what called them to serve in the military. Was it a college education? Escape from poverty? A family tradition?
Indeed, what calls any of us to our pathways? What keeps us there?
And that’s when I began to see those soldiers differently. Whatever called them to serve, it isn’t terribly different than what calls me to write. We are both dedicated to something greater than ourselves, to the possibility of making a difference in someone’s life, somewhere.
I still don’t believe in war. But soldiers are not the authors of war. They are trying to be dedicated to something greater than themselves.
An admirable view all the way around. As a young man in the mid 60s I faced a serious question in my life. My family raised me with very patriotic beliefs. It was my duty to serve my country through the military… but I really detested the idea of taking someones life in the process.
In short, my resolution was to fly Dustoff (medical evacuation) in the Army during the VietNam conflict. As a non-combatant I was still serving my country and my fellow soldiers. Dustoff faced some of the most challenging times. We were called to help when people got wounded in combat. Active live fire was expected on every mission. I like to still believe that my efforts plus those of all my companions helpped bring home some young men who would not have returned otherwise.
There are many ways to serve, and many aspects of war that are often overlooked in the shadow of the more “newsworthy” violence and conflict.
As a veteran of both the Army and the Marine Corps my hat is off to you for supporting our men and women in uniform, and the duties they fullfil… even when directed into war by those with the power to do so..