Today marks the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the invasion that really never should have had to happen. The invasion of Iraq was something like so many other things that we as a species and a as a global community decided to just put off. The war in Iraq should have been fought by my generation; it was my war to fight. And like so many things that we should have done, we as a world kicked the can down the road to be dealt with by others. I’m sure that I am not the only father out there who served in a “combat arms” job in the peacetime military, trained for war, and never had to put our training and selves into the test of what it means to be combat arms.
I’m sure as every horrible event in time, fathers such as I who have been a history nut and admirer of those who were tossed into warfare lived, how they lived and their enemies at the same time. I have always studied the conflicts from both sides of the fence as it is a fact that the victors write history. To read the words of someone who was on the other side of the victory, the losers as it were, will you gain how horrible war is and how absolutely gut wrenching it is to talk about wars and their potential for mayhem and brutality when you have passed into obscurity and have become a surplus soldier who has been used for nothing and put away.
Fast forward almost two decades. I help raise four children with my wife and I was just watching things spin and events happen that were a sign of things to come. I am not a clairvoyant in any way shape or form. But I saw what was coming. Every attack on the US and allies by the radical Islamic asshats all over the world and the world’s refusal to rise up and put them in their place and as a species tell these assholes to just knock it off or die.. The choice never seems to be an option.
9/11 came… the day that the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach came and stayed… I knew that the moment that the second plane struck the tower, then the Pentagon that this was something that would affect my world forever. The most sickening and helpless part of this was that I was a surplus soldier and not use to anyone. My time to slay the enemy was over. This task and this threat were solidly on my sons and daughter. I knew that the chances were great that one or even all of my children would stand up to be counted in the coming wars on the horizon and it made me sick to my very soul that my children would go off to face the demons that I as a soldier allowed to live.
The same sick feeling returned this day 10 years ago. My children were at the age where they were going to start choosing their paths. Being that they have always seen things differently than the normal run of the mill person is my fault and my blessing. I feel the pride of raising children to be human more than strictly adherent to the status quo and hiding among the sheep waiting simple for their day to have life involve them, they are the types who will live their life as real people and live and die based on what is right and what is wrong. This is part of the curse it is part of the shame. Had I been like so many others? My sons and daughters could be part of the flock, part of the generation that doesn’t know what happens to humans when tyrants and bullies are loosed on civilized humans who are shocked and unable to react to barbarism.
The oldest and first born raised his hand and stood to be counted as a man, as a human and wanted to do something to blunt the onslaught of the coming evil. He willingly walked into the wars and the evils as he knew what it was and what it meant to someone out there if he did not. As other brave young men and women have done, he decided to follow the path of the warrior, when he could have been anything else as so many do, he chose to become brothers with those like him and no matter sick the feeling in my guts, I had to stand for him and admire him as the brave man that he had become. I have never lost the sick feeling in my guts… it never goes away and never will. I became an unused and untried Infantryman who had to watch his son become an infantryman, grow as an infantryman with his new family of brothers and then helplessly watch the load up and deployment and send his Infantryman son of to slay the evil that I was prepared to fight yet didn’t. The guilt will always be there, the shame will never be completely gone. I was a soldier once… and young as the old title of a book reads.
I now have reminders everywhere of this thing I have been sentenced to. To live while your soldier son dies. To basically have been proved horribly wrong or even a liar when upon the day of his birth that your whispered promises that you would protect him from evil and show him how to live to be something that the world needed rather than more of what the world did not. Well for a flash in time he was the man that I never was or ever had to be. I salute him and all of those who call him brother. Today is the day that far so many fathers found out what worrying truly was.