I remember sitting in Spanish III, listening to the Army representative describe the most wonderful program I could imagine. They would take me to a school in Colorado, I believe, and I would learn another language. That would be my job–to become fluent–and every day under their instruction I would get closer and closer to that goal.
Looking around that room, I knew I wasn’t the only one who was excited. We all leaned forward in our chairs, smiles stretched across our faces; learning another language was exciting for this group of over-achievers.
Until someone asked the rather important question:
“But would we have to join the Army?”
“Yes, you would have to fulfill a commitment to the Army,” the young man explained.
We all groaned audibly, flung ourselves back in our seats, and the young man smiled, a smile showing his disappointment that the program he had described so beautifully, grabbing our interest, would not become a reality for anybody.
We weren’t going to join the Army; we were going to college.
Of course, no one ever really explained what joining the Army or any branch of the military would entail. In the community where I grew up, the military was reserved more for those who couldn’t get into college or for those rare few who participated in ROTC in high school.
I remember when the Marine ROTC program came to our school; I, actually, contemplated taking the classes, but I always found another course that I had to take instead, a reason ROTC wouldn’t work in my schedule.
So I never understood that the Army or any other branch of service was more was than the horrors of Basic Training I had seen in movies. I didn’t understand that not everyone would have to fire an M-16 at the enemy. I didn’t understand that I could still go to college and actually get money for college if I did ROTC at my university.
I was ignorant.
I did talk to a recruiter once, but I had no intention of joining the Army. I grabbed every bumper sticker and pamphlet from his table, put them all in a bag with the giant letters across it spelling ‘Army,’ and I convinced my friends I was going to join. My boyfriend whispered in fear, “If you join the Army, I’m going to have to break up with you,” and I remember thinking to myself You are so stupid. If I want to join the Army, I will whether or not you break up with me.
Of course, I was the stupid one as I continued to date him for another year and a half.
And I was the stupid one for having not sought out that hidden interest until a college degree had been under my belt for a few years.
But on days like the other day, as we celebrate as a community,
driving our old cars,
waving our American flags,
and remembering why we have gathered,
I find that familiar stirring again.
I don’t pray for my children to inherit the stirring, but if they have it, I will support them. And I will make sure that they understand.
Many, even within our own country, would like us to think that America is nothing special; we’re the same as any other country. I couldn’t disagree more. We have our periods in history that I wish we could go back and erase, but when I listen to the news and hear of the atrocities committed elsewhere, remember the reasons our young country was founded and the principles for which young men and woman continue to die in order to protect, I think we’re pretty darned special.
Special enough to catch the ears of some spoiled juniors in a Spanish III class.
Was joining the military presented as a realistic option to you growing up? Would you encourage your own children to join?
12 thoughts on “The Stirring”
Yes, and yes. 🙂 I know well the stirring of which you speak.
My brother and his wife have both served proudly for years. I would certainly support my children if this is the road they decided to take. I might cry and worry while I do, but I'd do all I could to be there for them!
I love our country and am so very proud that many in our family have served.
I have special feelings for any man or woman willing to keep us free.
The Star Spangled Banner means more to me now than ever.
GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!
Didn’t know much about the military at all until I met Matthew. I am so proud of him and his family for serving. I would be supportive of anyone wanting to join.
This is something I've never thought of before. I only knew a few people in the army (Canadian Military) and I don't think it has the same connotations and meanings in Canada as it does in the US. Most people have no good things to say about military or army or navy or whatever here. And it's often a big joke. If one of my children wanted to join up, it would be coming right out of left field…it would be very strange.
It's interesting to hear your perspective as one from another country. I think most Americans would say they are proud of our troops, especially considering the poor treatment our troops received after Vietnam. However, I am curious as to how many parents would *want* their children to serve, especially knowing it's almost guaranteed that those in the military will deploy to a war-zone these days. I know there was a drastic difference in reaction between my parents and Matt's parents when we shared our decision to seek a commission in the Air Force.
Never wanted to be in the miltiary…however, I would be SO honored if any of my boys chose one of the elite service academies.
I am extremely proud of and humbled by those who choose to serve! They have my full support. But it definitely would be hard on a mama's heart.
Not only did my husband grow up with 2 parents who served in the military, and a grandfather who served, but David was also one of the few who participated in ROTC in high school. He talked seriously to a recruiter a year or so into our marriage (after 9/11, before war) and we felt we should wait a little longer and let him pursue the fire department.
Although, we KNOW the decision we made was correct and best for our family, those stirrings come all the time. We are so proud of our family who has served and I think a small piece of my husband’s heart will always be with the military, but I am proud the Lord led him to the fire department and the life we are living. I will always be brought to tears when I hear a patriotic song, see veterans being honored and hear people talk about our country. I would honestly be very proud of my kids if the Lord opened the doors for them to be in that profession. (Scared to death, but proud 🙂 Thank you for sharing! I love it! SY
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My dad was in the Army for the first ten years of my life, so I grew up in the military environment. I'm positive that influenced me to join the Army now. It's something that I've wanted to do since I was in college, but was always a bit scared. It just worked out really perfectly to do it now. They pay for school, and I get to do something I've always wanted to do! Perfect trade.
My huband's in the military (air force) also, as was his dad- so I've got a feeling we'd be more than happy if they joined.