This I Believe

Frances - washington, District of Columbia
Entered on August 7, 2007

I believe in serving. I believe in the obligation of duty to our country, whether it means becoming a “weekend warrior” or going to infantry school for a certain deployment to Iraq. I think about my great-uncle who died in World War I right before the Armistice. I think about my uncle who survived multiple Pacific landings during World War II. And, I think about my dad who was drafted during Vietnam and was sent only sixty miles away to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to care for prisoners at the brig. He hated every minute of his service, wore a peace necklace, and purposefully grew his hair long to “drive the shavey-heads crazy.” I think about how mad he was when I signed up for the Navy—not even as an active duty officer, but “only” as a reservist. He didn’t understand what he called “a waste of talent.”

I wonder what could have changed for my family between the years of the “Great War” and today. I wonder why my family looks at military service as something that “other people should do.” My hometown of Boston was never a hot spot for recruiting, but it was the cradle of freedom. It never sent as many boys to war as did the brave cities of the south and the heartland, but it still boasts of igniting a revolution.

My other uncle—an uncle from a small town in Wisconsin, not a big townhouse in Boston—died recently while wearing his camouflage jacket from Vietnam. As he died, his fondest memories were those of his friends—other soldiers—from Cameron Bay. His sense of service was with him on his deathbed; he felt more strongly for his comrades, his brothers, than anything else in the world. I wonder sometimes why more people aren’t compelled to take the oath before the flag and learn how to lead and how to follow wearing the uniform of our nation. You are part of a great gang of warriors, proud people, who believe that America is not just about placid existence but pursuit of true beliefs.

As I get ready to move to Fort Campbell, Kentucky from my happy little home in Washington, DC, where I can eat whatever food I want at whatever time I want and spend time with my college friends who write for The New Republic or work for Senator Kennedy or study human rights law at Georgetown, I think about how my husband-to-be will be deployed to fight our war in Afghanistan. I think about how much I want to go with him—I want to be with him, my best friend, but I want to be in uniform with him. We both believe in service and love our service; he looks at the young soldiers and I look at the young sailors who sign up to serve and it makes us proud to be chosen leaders. It is in them, I believe.