“How do you feel about the potential risks involved with service in the U.S. Navy?” This commonly asked interview question for Naval Academy applicants requires a perspective to answer that most eighteen year olds fail to possess. The question is phrased very generally as to hide is true meaning. Most turn to patriotism, but even they feel the uncertain pull of doubt upon them as soon as they give their response. I however, have found an answer that I can truly believe and accept.
To rephrase the question, “How do you feel about dying for your country?” A person’s life is the most valuable thing they possess. However in modern America, a world almost devoid of the death and suffering of the past, most people are blissfully unaware of the fragility of life. Many forget that lives are lost everyday without cause or a meaning behind it. The true pity is not for those who have sacrificed their lives for a noble cause, but for those who have perished without meaning or remembrance.
One might ask how I have come to such a conclusion. Unfortunately in this example, experience is the only true teacher. I have been influenced by two particular deaths in my life. The first is that of my 4th grade classmate, with whom I was good friends. He was nothing more than the typical school boy and enjoyed many interests and tastes, including a love of Star Wars. However, his parents became involved in a difficult divorce. His mother became mentally ill and eventually killed herself and her son. The second was a friend of mine whom I had known through my local swim team. He was killed one night when he accidently stumbled into the street and was hit by a vehicle. Although these events are tragic, they serve to provide insight on the issue. Soldiers who are killed in action die with a sense of honor and integrity that only a few have been so fortunate to possess. However, my two friends died with only their innocence. Those who die for a noble cause are truly fortunate, because there are countless more that die for no reason. This I believe.