My uncle sent the following note to my cousin this morning... A proud father thanking his son for serving his country. I asked if I might post this, and was told it would be appropriate.
While my cousin has not yet seen combat, he enlisted in the middle of a war, as so many young Americans continue to do. While we (appropriately) fight our own domestic war against statism, it is easy to forget that right now, around the globe, thousands of those young Americans wake up to defend us and to continue the righteous fight for freedom. The noble American spirit is alive and well - perpetuated by a new generation of freedom-loving Yanks who are wearing the uniforms of the great United States military.
God Bless them all.
March 29, 2010
As I write this, you are probably somewhere over the Atlantic on your way back to Aviano. It has been a little less than a year since you started your service to our country, and most of your initial training is over. Although you never quit training in the military, this next phase will most likely be an application of what you have learned rather than rudimentary training like you have experienced to date.
This morning at the airport, once more I was reminded of just what you have accomplished in a relatively short period of time and how much you have grown in that time. The man at the ticket counter was genuinely helpful with your baggage transfer through three stops on your journey and exhibited a degree of respect rarely given from someone his age to someone your age. It came from his heart when he said he appreciated what you are doing for our country. It reminded me once more of how proud I am of you.
In many ways I envy you. There is a big hole in my life that will never be completely filled. I allowed events of the time to overrule my desire to serve. Although I played a small role in the National Guard and then Army Reserve, I didn’t serve on active duty as I really wanted to do. I regret that I came of age in a generation where military service was not appreciated or encouraged, but often despised.
There were lots of reasons why. The military leadership in our country had greatly deteriorated. We were fighting a war with political strategy out of D.C. rather than military strategy developed from military leaders. (example: bombng targets were decided by a President with dubious moral character and a Secretary of Defense who came from Ford Motors rather than by military leaders “in country.”) Over 50,000 good men and women died in a losing effort due to this hateful bungling, and those who served with courage, dignity, and resolve came home to a country that didn’t welcome them back and called them baby killers.
It’s a different world now, and military service is once more respected as it deserves to be. Many generations of Warriors have preceded you, from Washington on the frozen banks of the Delaware River to my personal hero, Sam Johnson who spent 7 years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. Men like PaPa who turned 18 on the “Burma Road” in World War II. (If you get a chance, read about the CBI or China, Burma, India theatre of war in WWII…it is fascinating reading and you will have a personal connection to it). You are truly doing something that will profoundly change your life, although it might be hard to see now.
Life is hard, especially if you take it on full force. But there is a world of truth in what Patton told his men about serving their country (in Italy, matter of fact). He said, “at least when your grandkids crawl into your lap and ask you what you did in the war…well, at least you won’t have to tell them you were shoveling sh*t in Louisiana.”
What you are doing is making a difference, and there will be a time when you will see that with a clarity that will amaze you.
God has a purpose for you, just like He has for all of us. Your mother and I often express to each other how proud we are of the steps you have taken and the growth which has occurred.. It will be exciting to see where this all leads.
We are both extremely proud of you and love you very much.