7.05.2007

Serenity, Courage and Wisdom. . .

"What is democracy?
It's got something to do with young men killing each other, Arthur.
When it comes my turn, will you want me to go?
For democracy, any man would give his only begotten son. . .

Now that the war is through with me
I'm waking up, I cannot see
That there's not much left of me
Nothing is real but pain now.

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please God, wake me. . ." - Metallica, "One"

I can remember my Grandmother telling me stories about what it was like for her boyfriends to go off to war in the early forties - and how so many of them never came home.

I used to watch the old movies on TBS with her in the summer - John Wayne and Tyrone Power remain etched in my memory linked with her stories of patriotism and the sacrifice that her generation made in the name of Freedom. It seemed so glamorous and sad all at the same time.

I often think of the families of our servicemen and women who are living that reality every day. . . how I admire their strength and committment and I pray for their loved-ones safe return as a matter of course. But when the focus changes and I am thinking about my "little man" being one of "them" - my heart drops into my knees.

Several of my son's friends are joining the military. I'll never forget the first time I opened the front door and a fresh-faced kid (who is STILL about twelve in my mind) announced, "Hey, Mrs. McKnight, I joined the Marines!" He later stood in my living room as we oooooed and ohhhhed over the scars that covered his scalp after the Hummer accident in Iraq that killed the others in the vehicle.

When the Navy recruiter calls my house, it is all I can do to keep from screaming at him, "Leave my baby alone!" I hope my son finishes college first, and then decides that he doesn't want a Navy career anymore. But he is nineteen - ultimately, it will be his choice. Right now he is considering the reserves and I am just wringing my hands.

After this year's graduation, a new slew of boys seem to have followed suit. My fifteen year old daughter is watching (I have to stop thinking of them as "little") boys she's known most of her life jumping off into Manhood, seemingly with both eyes closed. I don't think they really have any idea of what it will be like for them - they're just in such a hurry to grow up. Oh, their poor parents!!

Ain't it just a continuing lesson in parenthood that sometimes there's nothing we can do but take it as it comes?

And now, I know why my Mom is always so quick to offer up the serenity prayer:

"God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference."

Oh, yeah, that was definitely written by a parent!

2 comments:

NS said...

Hi Lara!
I'm not sure if it's too late, but if your son wants to talk to my husband and some friends about being in the Navy, I can arrange that. I think it's REALLY important to have an HONEST representation of what it's like, and not just what the recruiter glamourizes for them. My husband is a GREAT resource for that, and would point out all the good and bad. I also know people in the AF and other branches, so just let me know. Offer is open to all parents experiencing this! You are right about 2 things: they are jumping in with eyes closed, and that joining AFTER college is a better choice. It's like day and night, officer and enlisted. Let me know! You can PM on the pcolamoms website if you want.
((hugs)).
~Naina

Lara said...

Naina, you are so kind to offer!

Our son was in ROTC for four years and is very close to his Senior Chief. Our neighbor retired from the Navy last summer and he has been a wonderful resource (and friend) to my son . . .so he has talked extensively with them and others.

I would absolutely encourage any young person who is considering joining the military to talk with those in the know about the reality.

Sometimes, though, kids are just sucked in by the impulse and the glamour and the need to grow up quickly.

Then again, I think that's pretty much how I wound up where I am today, too. : )

Hugs back at you!!!!