(Originally posted at Red State Rant)
At Lance’s request, I’m proud to announce on Red State Rant that after an extended effort, I’ve finally been accepted back into Uncle Sam’s Big Green Gun Club. A little background:
My efforts began on September 11, 2001, when the news about the terrorist attacks in New York City came over the radio. I immediately drove to the recruiter’s office to inquire about reenlistment options. My advance was rebuked, however, due to an ankle injury that I’d sustained two months previous, one which eventually landed me on the surgeon’s slab six months later. Running, and therefore staying in shape, was a painful proposition for nearly a year thereafter. Then my wife and I decided to start our family, a decision that I in no way second-guess, but one which further altered my plans.
As I watched the kick-off of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom from the sidelines, I couldn’t stand the fact that Marines were out there doing what Marines do, and here I was, a man of eligible age, riding the bench. The final straw came on the day that my brother, a career Marine until a back injury put him out of active duty after 15 years, emailed me a photo of himself being sworn back into the Corps as a reservist. That was simply more than I could stand.
I got off my ass, got back in shape, and got on the phone with the prior service recruiter. Skipping all the sordid details of a paperwork nightmare, a little more than a year later, on July 10, 2005, I stood before a Captain with the 4th FSSG, raised my right hand, and took the oath of enlistment for the second time in my life, sworn-in as a 35 year-old Corporal of Marines (reserve) as my wife and son looked on.
I’d been off of active duty for almost 10 years, but as we walked out of the HQ building at the Navy/Marine Corps Reserve Center and passed a Colonel, the salute that I snapped felt just as natural as it ever had, and the uniform I wore felt like an old friend. I straightened my back, poked out my chest just a little, and stepped more smartly. God, it felt great to be green again!
I give the reader all of that to answer a question many people have asked, including the worshipful Red State Rant blogmaster and my life-long friend, Lance: Why? After all, I’ve already served my country, “paid my dues,” or “done my time,” as some say.
To that, I have this to say: Serving my country is not a 4 year contract. It is a life-long commitment. Nor is it a “due” to be paid like some cheap membership fee. It is a deeply personal obligation. And it is certainly not “time” that has to be “done” like some felony prison sentence. It is nothing short of an honor that I hold in the highest regard, an honor that I must prove worthy of, an honor that must be earned every single day.
Many people have shaken their heads in disbelief, sometimes I think in disdain, when they learned of my plans. I’m a family man now, after all. Why would I volunteer, when there is a very real possibility of a combat deployment? Don’t I care about my family?
Without question, my family is the single most important part of my life on earth. But just exactly what sort of husband and father do I want for my family? What kind of man do I want my wife to devote her life to? When my children are grown, what is the picture of their father going to look like in their minds? I’ll tell you: I want my beloved wife, to whom I am utterly devoted, to go through her days without a shadow of a doubt that the man she married is a man of honor and commitment, a man that knows there are things in life worth giving one’s own life for, if necessary. I want her, as she looks out upon all of the world’s deception, falseness, infidelity, and evil, to know that her husband is on the right side of things.
I want my children to have a father that they can unwaveringly look up to as an example. I want them to grow up, not with an attitude of entitlement, but with a sense of duty, obligation, and reward. I want to teach them that we don’t always say, “Let the other guy do it.” Instead, I want them to learn that there are times that we must ask, “If not me, then who?” I want to be the best father I can be, and I can think of no better lessons to teach them than the value of honor, integrity, dedication, perseverance, and selflessness. I can offer no better example for my family than to strive to live those values every day in my own personal life.
All of that is a way of life for United States Marines.
In addition to all of that, throw in any applicable clichés regarding patriotism, fighting for our country, etc. They’re all no less true for me than anyone else who has said them, but they have become overused to the point that they have begun to lose effect. I will add one: Revenge. I make no apology for wanting to kill the bastards that want to kill us.
I harbor no illusions about saving the world, being a hero, or altering the course of events. It’s simply that at no time in my life have I been more proud and satisfied with what I was doing than while serving as an active duty Marine. My decision to leave the Corps, if I had it to do over, likely would have been different. I want to at least partially amend that decision while I am still young enough (barely) to do so. I love being around fellow Marines, doing what Marines do: training, fighting, working, sweating, cussing, bitching, adapting, improvising, overcoming, accomplishing the mission, and taking care of each other.
Lastly, these are historic times for our country and for my Marine Corps. For me, it's decision time- sit on the sidelines and merely be an observer, or step up and be a participant.
I’m stepping up.