Monday, November 10, 2008

Army brats

My sister and I spent part of Sunday remembering our days of growing up as Army brats. We remembered our dad, who loved the Army and served it well. Kathy remembers his great disappointment when health kept him out of the field of battle during World War II, and how he vowed instead to be the best PX Officer - and later best Transportation Corps Officer - ever. We remembered how difficult Army life was for our mother, who hated the rigid and empty protocol that enveloped officer's wives ("would the 2nd Lieutenant's wife please pull the curtains?") in those days, but did what she was called on to do because that was part of the world she'd married into.

I remember Army life much less as militaristic than bureaucratic, formal, hierarchical, massive, traditional. It was a world within which everyone had a place and a role (and a rank: I remember with embarrassment telling other kids on the school bus that my dad outranked their dads. I can't remember what I was trying to win with this ploy.)

Much has changed in the Army since those days, but we continue to be blessed by this country's deep tradition that our military forces do not take sides in our political life. Although I am mainly and mostly a pacifist, I do honor those who've served in the military in war or in peace, and especially those who've died or been wounded in body or mind. I wish for a future in which such sacrifice is no longer needed or acceptable, unlikely though it is to come in my lifetime.

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