Proud and Frightened

On this Memorial Day once again I am conflicted.  I oppose all war and yet I have a son that has a military career. Tyson is a Master Sergeant in the Air Force and is exactly the kind of person that you would want defending your freedom.  And yet, I believe that all conflicts should be dealt with diplomatically and still I know that there times when the use of arms is preferred to the evil being eliminated.  Sometimes I would like to bury my head in the sand and wish it all away but that is not possible.  So while academics and politicians debate ‘just war doctrines’ and the strict conditions for legitimate defense by military forces, brave men and women like Tyson take up arms and “do their jobs” everyday. Their job is to protect our way of life. And they do this without question or concern and often at great personal hardship.  As a citizen I appreciate and applaud their sacrifices and service to our Nation.

However, as a parent there are no words to describe the helplessness that I felt when Tyson was deployed in Iraq.  At that time I remember thinking that no one’s child (or spouse, or parent, sibling) should have to be there.  Watching the Nightly News and holding your breath with each report of another attack or roadside bombing.  Waking up night after night from the nightmare about getting “the call” that your son is injured or dead.  Worrying that your granddaughter may grow up fatherless and may never know how much her Daddy loved her.  Feeling so consumed by anger and resentment that you can’t find good in anyone or anything.  Each day I would pray:

Father all-powerful and ever-loving God,

Hear my prayer for Tyson, my son.

From before he was born,

your love has nurtured and sustained him.

Keep him safe in time of battle

and faithful to you, day in and day out.

Bring him safely home to those who love him.

I ask this through Christ our Lord. ~ Amen 

I love my son and I am so proud of him.  I also love my country and am proud to be an American.  But I hate war.  And I could never be a “flag waving” enthusiast that wants to “bomb the hell out of our enemies!”  Does this make me less of a patriot than others?  I’m not sure, but it’s fascinating to me that some folks assume because my son is military that I share their penchant for war and retaliation.  This has made for some awkward situations.  Especially when I ask – who would Jesus bomb?

So this is my Memorial Day paradox.  I mean no disrespect to any of the brave men and women that have served our nation, especially those that have died.  In fact, I thank them and honor them for their sacrifices.  I’m just a dad worried about his son.



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