Thursday, September 13, 2007
A Father’s Post 9/11 Thoughts
Tuesday night in a small church chapel on campus, we listened as a writer and father recounted how in the days following September 11, 2001 he watched his 19 year old son make the decision to sign up for the Army. Only after the young soldier was sent to Baghdad did the full impact sink it. The father and mother watched the news from their “nest” and comforted each other until one day a call home came from the son. “I’ve been shot, but I’m okay,” he said. The father related that the tone in the son’s voice was almost exuberant as if the son had witnessed a miracle, and I suppose it was a miracle that the Kevlar vest stopped the bullet and not the young man’s flesh.
After that day, doubts began to grow in the heart of the father. He started to question why he had not tried to stop the son from enlisting at all. He had periods of depression, and yet, each day he watched the news and listened to the reports of more deaths. Then one day another call came, and this time the voice on the other end of the line was official. “Are you . . .?” However, this was again a close call for the son who had been injured as his tank came under fire. Nothing serious—a mere bump on the head. But it could have been thought the father.
The son came home on leave, and the father watched as the son no longer fit in with the high school friends who were more interested in video games than hearing about the reality of war. He had changed. When the leave was over, the father could barely stand driving the son to the airport to catch a return flight to Iraq. As the days in Iraq dwindled down for the son and his service was nearly complete, a fellow soldier who had become a close friend died. The son brought that hurt home with him as he set about starting life afresh.
“I have two sons,” I told the writer as we connected after the reading. He replied, “You know those Army ads where the son says ‘I want to enlist’ and they say ‘talk about it’? Well, don’t listen to them.”
Note: The Army launched a new advertising campaign valued at $1 billion last fall with McCann Worldgroup. According to the Boston Globe, $200 million is guaranteed for the first two years of the five-year campaign. Army Strong replaces "An Army of One" and "Be all that You Can Be."