color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Name Removed to Protect the Guilty

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Name Removed to Protect the Guilty

I get email. Most emails are from people asking for information (where to send cards and gifts to soldiers), asking me to participate in surveys or projects (some “yes”, some, “no”). I get emails from parents who tell me that my thoughts are their thoughts… these thoughts of having our children at war. But I can’t tell you how distressed I was to receive this one:
Re: I Don’t Share Your Views

I don't understand why this country is SO war hungry? YOU obviously have never been in war, I HAVE! These people volunteering are NOT avenging 9/11, they're simply fighting a war Bush engineered against Iraq, to get even for Sadamm [sic] trying to have his "Daddy" assassinated! I DO NOT SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! My step-son volunteered for the army behind our backs, and he's been dis-owned! (he's in Iraq now and I hope he catches the bullet he signed up for) When is this country going to learn from history? Was Sadamm bad? Of course, but who appointed us the world's policeman? He had NOTHING to do with 9/11. I hear Bush has [sic] still has the Mars Rover searching for those WMD!

All we're doing is continuing the violence and hatred! When are we going to learn Peace is the answer? Iraq was NO threat to us at all! This was the wrong war that we started and history will not forget!

Mark H (name removed to protect the guilty)
Wounded Viet-Nam Vet
(I had no choice!)

Of course, my first inclination was to respond with something smarta$$ like, “No wonder he joined the Army with a stepfather like you.” Or “I sense anger there.” Or “Sounds like a control issue.”

But I just couldn’t. The part where he wishes harm to his stepson was so overwhelmingly horrific… repulsive… sad. It made me gasp when I first read it. The DH was incredulous.

When our children are still under your control (i.e., before age 18), when they want to make choices you don't agree with, you do your best to explain why that’s not a good idea but you also just get to say, “Nope. Not happening.” When each of our sons came to tell us that they wanted to join the military, we asked questions, we discussed the pros and cons. We let them make the decision and we support them 100% in their choices (in these cases, we agreed with their choices.) We are incredibly proud of each of our children.

As parents of now-adult children, we have been there when they were making choices that made us cringe or want to scream or erupt in anger: “You did WHHAATTTT????” But I cannot imagine ever wishing ill on any of our children simply because they did something we didn’t agree with. In fact, in those situations, you want the decision to be right… to work out… you want to be wrong (if even just that once) because you want to spare your child from the pain or fallout if it turns out as badly as you imagine it might.

If your child mentions his or her intentions before they make it final, you do your best to talk reason to them. Sometimes there is no talking to them; their minds are already made up and you might say, “OK. Just remember that adult decisions have adult consequences.” Even in their worst decisions, you may be angry (how could they be that unintelligent?) However, it has always been our intention to “be there” for our children -- good or bad -- to be supportive of them whether we agree with their choices or not (well, as best we can). That’s our job as parents. And I try to remind myself that they all have to make choices and mistakes for themselves (just as we did) because that’s how they learn... most of life's larger lessons cannot be transferred via genetics nor osmosis.

But to wish harm on a child you [allegedly] love and have helped raise and wanted all the good that life has to give?? Creeps me out.

So, Mark, here’s my response:

I am not pro‑war. I am as anti‑war as they come as I have skin in that game. In this case, I am pro-Victory.

No, I have never physically been to war, but I have sent a child to war... and the veterans I have spoken with (including both my husband and a 32 year career Army officer) say that sending their children to war was -- is -- the hardest thing they have ever done). I know it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I think sending him the second time will be harder still. If I had my way, no child anywhere in the world would ever have to go to war again. Ever. Anywhere. (And it's perhaps the strongest reason for staying until the job is done in Iraq and Afganistan... so our children and their children NEVER have to go back.)

Not everyone who joins the military believes that they are avenging anything, but all believe that they are protecting this country and the people who live here. Including you.

As you say, so say I: I don’t agree with your views (on the war).

The fact that your (step)son volunteered for the Army against your objections tells me that this young man has strong convictions and beliefs and was willing to “put his money where his mouth is”. You should be desperately proud of that young man -- even if you do not agree with his beliefs or his choice. (I’m proud of him.)

“When are we going to learn Peace is the answer?“ When people are no longer trying to kill us, Mark. When there is no more genocide in the world. When people no longer war in the name of religion or ethnicity.

I’m not an overly-religious person, but I do know that prayer works, so I will pray for your stepson even though I do not even know his name. I will pray for his safety and for strength and courage for him and his brothers. He needs someone in his corner - and my friends and I will be there for him.

And I will pray for you, Mark. I will pray that you find some peace. I will pray that you will love your (step)son and find pride in his selfless service to his country.
And I will pray that your wife never finds out what you have wished for her son. (‘cause I know what I’d do if it was me...)
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.


At 11/30/2006 5:11 AM , Anonymous Mary*Ann said...

Wow, it is truly hard to believe that someone could wish that...on anyone...let alone their own child...even a step child.

At 11/30/2006 5:43 AM , Blogger Toni said...

This is a classic example of why the draft is a bad idea. I'm assuming this man was drafted since he said he had no choice.

At 11/30/2006 9:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When people are no longer trying to kill us, Mark. When there is no more genocide in the world. When people no longer war in the name of religion or ethnicity."

Although I agree with you that Mark's wish for his step son is deeply sad, I don't think your response to why peace won't work is legitimate. I have been in a country struck by genocide, and have seen the effects of current genocide in another country. This war was not started because of genocide. If it were, there would be thousands of troops over in the other countries that are currently experiencing it now. Groups try to kill Americans because Americans finance the death of others and then don't live up to the responsibility of their actions.

Your son, Mark's son and the thousands of other men and women from countries all over the world who are participating in this war are being changed forever for convictions of something that is dishonest. These are good people who are misinformed and it is hard to swallow the feelings of resentment when, from an older perspective, it can be viewed as suicide (either mental or physical) to participate in something that has such illusion attached to it.

I pray for Mark's son, your son, all the men and women who think this war is right, who think that "winning" it will change anything, who think that the survivors won't be sending their own children to fight useless wars when they are older, who think that Bush is different then Pol Pot, who think that the needless deaths of so many will do anything more than crush the hearts and souls of their loved ones and (god willing) the ones who did the killing.

Be careful in your judgment of Mark's anger. That sort of pain related to a stranger didn't occur because he saw something minor. He has seen what war can do.

At 11/30/2006 9:10 AM , Blogger Stacy said...

How can he sleep at night wishing that upon his son. I could never in a million years wish that upon any child, especially that of my spouse.

He has no heart at all.

I wounder if he has children of his own. If so, how would he feel if his wife said something like that about his child. No person in their right mind would wish that upon their child.

At 11/30/2006 1:47 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

Dear Anonymous... I have seen what war can do first hand... not only did my husband serve two tours in Vietnam, but my son has suffered from severe PTSD since his return along with the rest of his buddies... I have attended one too many memorial services and one soldier's funeral too many. And while we may not have gotten involved in THIS war specifically because of genocide, we have been involved in other wars where genocide and ethnic cleansing has been a mainstay of evil men. And in this case, people ARE trying to kill us and have been trying to kill Americans since the 1970's... it should have been dealt with long ago -- and on many different kinds of "battlefields"... but it was not. To blame one individual -- one President for the failure of many is the hallmark of BDS... Pol Pot?? You know so little...

and that fact that this man would share his anger to a complete stranger makes me worry all the more for this man... AND his family.

and as for judging -- who are YOU to judge that these men who fight in America's military do so for "dishonest" convictions?? at least they HAVE convictions and are willing to put it on the line for them. I say HOOAH! OORAH! and Bravo Zulu to those that do.

At 11/30/2006 6:21 PM , Anonymous Anna said...

This man's anger and wishes for his stepson break my heart! Makes me wonder if he is the young man that Brat at Tanker Brothers is referring to.

At 12/02/2006 9:10 AM , Anonymous yankeemom said...

I'm sad to say that I experienced, though not as extreme, this mindset when I sat for hours at MEPS when my daughter was enlisting. The young soldiers-to-be would ask me if I was Devon's Mom and told me how great it was that I was there. Too many of them told me that their parents weren't speaking to them or that they hadn't told them yet because of the reaction they knew they would get.
I can't imagine not being there for my child, one way or another, as she or he makes such a momentous decision.
I feel so sad for this person. It's tragic to be that bitter. I, too pray for peace to come to him and the safety for his step-son.
Anonymous, your comment proves that you know little of a soldier's heart. It insults those who are serving, making them out to be mindless tools. It is the illusion that we can achieve peace through talking and more talking that will get more killed. It takes both parties in a conflict to desire peace and I don't see that coming from the terrorists. They see appeasement as weakness and use it to their advantage and have been doing so for decades. And the killing goes on.

At 12/03/2006 8:44 AM , Blogger Melinda said...

Absolutely flabbergasted that anyone could say that about any service person serving our country. Horrified at the ability of someone to say it about their child, step- or no. Sure, we can be all non-judgmental and touchy-feely and say it's this guy's way of insulating himself against the very real danger his kid faces, but I'm not the touchy-feely type.
I'm the type who says you can feel/think however you want, but if you are shameless, don't expect the rest of us to sit around, listen and approve.
I wish I had his boy's address.

At 12/03/2006 8:53 AM , Anonymous Debbie said...

My Son is currently serving in Iraq. This is his 6th trip to the Middle East (the first was Desert Storm). I have been truly blessed that he returns to me after each deployment and I pray for his safe return in February.

After his third trip to the Middle East (before 9/11) he told me something needed to be done "over there". After his 5th trip, he told me "Yeah Mom, we could come home with our tails tucked between our legs and sit and wait for another 9/11".

Senator John McCain (a Vietnam Vet who was wounded AND tortured) made this statment two weeks ago on a news show: "What most Americans don't understand and can't seem to grasp, is if we come home, THEY will come after us." It amazes me everyday that most Americans do not realize these people have been killing and trying to kill Americans for over thirty years. When is enough enough? The brave soldiers in the Middle East are keeping these horrible monsters of war off our doorstep.

We live in the land of the free (and free speech) only because of the brave. The brave such as my Son, Some Soldier's Mom's Husband and Son, Mark H's (step)Son and thousands of Sons across our great nation.

Someone once said (I can't remember who) that if the Mothers of the world were in charge of world peace, there would never be a war to send our Sons to. Mothers hate war. I hate war. I hate my Son is over there for the 6th time.

Finally, you don't have to condone this war in order to support our Troops. If you don't stand behind our Troops ... please feel free to stand in front of them.

At 12/03/2006 4:35 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

To wish any of our soldiers harm, not to mention one who is a part of your family, is truly sick. This man has much deeper problems than his attitudes about war.

At 12/04/2006 4:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is so sad. I feel sorry for this man. But most of all I feel sorry for his stepson and his wife.

At 12/14/2006 5:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I was in Balboa Naval Hospital in 1968, I knew of parents of a dying Marine who refused to visit him [details deleted -- htom]; it was as he'd ceased to exist when he raised his hand and joined. Couldn't bring themselves to get on the city bus for an evening, they were that close to us.

I don't need to imagine that there are those like Mark who have such hatred for our military, I know they're there. That they don't see that their freedom to hate is brought to them by those they hate is supremely ironic.

-- htom


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