Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Belated Veteran's Day Post

I never got around to writing a Veteran's Day post back on November 11, but I decided I'd give a nod to our brave men and women in uniform today.  Better late than never!

I thought I'd share with you the faces of some of our best and brightest: some Army ROTC cadets at the University of Notre Dame who recently found out that they will receive active duty commissions upon graduation in May and learned to which branches they will be assigned.  (Among these faces is that of the youngest of my five sons, my baby--whom I love with the ferocity of a mother lion and of whom I am proud beyond words).
All five of our sons accepted four-year Army ROTC scholarships that they'd been awarded their senior years of high school.  My husband likes to point out that when kids these days make this sacrificial commitment to military service, it's different than it was back in his day.  He himself spent four years as a Navy ROTC midshipmen at Notre Dame; after graduation, he became a commissioned officer and fulfilled his boyhood dream of following in his dad's footsteps and becoming a Naval Aviator.  He flew A-7's and then transitioned to F-18's. Yes, he was a fighter pilot--which as far as the cool factor goes doesn't have any equal, in this woman's opinion.  But at the time he served, the only real threat to our national security was the ongoing "Cold War," and young men and women who entered the armed forces during that era were almost guaranteed that they wouldn't be called upon to participate in any ground wars.  It wasn't until the tail end of my husband's Navy career, when he'd started working for the airlines but was still a flight instructor in the Navy Reserves, that the first Gulf War broke out and there was a chance that he might be sent into battle.  While he was not called up, many of his buddies were, and one even lost his life when he was shot down on the first night of fighting.

The amazing thing is that even though the last thing my husband would have wanted to do was to leave his wife and sons and be sent into harm's way, he said that there was something deep inside him that sort of longed to be with his brothers in arms, fighting alongside them, putting into practice the years and years of training that had prepared him to be a combat pilot.  The feeling actually surprised him, he said.  But it was there, this yearning to use his particular set of skills in defense of his beloved country.  And like any true military man, it wasn't because he was some blood-thirsty, violent "war monger"; instead, it was because he felt that he would do anything--even lose his own life--if it meant keeping those he loved back here at home safe.

These are the kind of men who belong in the military.  Men like my husband.  And men like my sons.

Our oldest son served in the Army for eight years--with year-long deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was a Chinook helicopter pilot.  He missed the birth of his first children, his identical twin daughters, while on his second deployment (although he Skyped with his wife while she was in the delivery room).  Two of our sons are Reservists, although one was activated to active duty for a year, and the other had to deploy to Afghanistan for six months as a civilian.  While having a child deployed to a war zone is one of the most uniquely terrifying things a mother can experience, the sense of pride and gratitude such self-sacrifice and courage engenders is indescribable.

Now we have another son who has made the decision to spend the next eight years of his life in service to his country.  He will take that oath of allegiance to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."  He may be sent to a dangerous part of the world, but he has accepted that as part and parcel of being an Army officer.

God bless my boy and his buddies in the ROTC unit at Notre Dame.  God bless all those other brave souls--past, present, and future--who have taken or will take that same oath.  And God bless America!


  1. Oh wow! this mumma heart can't begin to imagine your feelings! May Our Lady bless and protect your youngest boy

  2. Thanks to those that serve and congratulations to all those kids on their commissions!!