Saturday, November 04, 2006

Another rhyme of history: military service and family strife

During the Vietnam years, it wasn't unusual for fathers and sons to stop talking to each other over issues connected with the war and military service. Most often the father, usually a veteran who'd served in World War II, couldn't understand or accept the son who felt his conscience dictated leaving the country or faking an illness.

Now the worm has turned. Certain fathers--perhaps in some cases those very same sons of long ago--are rejecting children who enlist:

My brother is an Army Ranger in Afghanistan...His choice to join after 9/11 was not easy. He was one year away from graduating from ASU with a law degree, and he believed the nation needed another soldier more than it needed another lawyer. His choice did not come without consequences, though.

His choice was not supported by our father, and his reaction to my brother’s choice was typical of a 1960s throwback; my brother is no longer welcome in my parent’s home.

My brother told me that he can understand our father’s reaction to the decision. They come from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.

There are many tragedies in war, and one of them is this estrangement of the generations. Note that in this particular case, the son seems to have an unusually mature--you might almost say "liberal," in the generic sense of the word--reaction to the father.

[ADDENDUM: Austin Bay, whose radio request for responses from military members to John Kerry's recent gaffe led to the letter I've quoted in this post, has written an eloquent soliloquy on Kerry. Hint: Austin is not one of Kerry's biggest fans.]

Powered by Blogger