I listen to two great kids talk about the future.Posted: March 18, 2010
The Marines called my house yesterday.
I was taking an old screen door off the back porch when the phone rang. I answered the phone and spent a minute exchanging pleasantries with Sergeant Roberts. He was a nice enough guy and someone who I think, by virtue of his title, is deserving of total respect. All the same, the military really doesn’t call me that often. I was trying to put that puzzle together when the grenade landed at my feet.
“Sir, I’m calling to speak with The Omawari-son.”
Truth be told, I should have seen it coming. I just wouldn’t let myself connect the dots. I know the school shares student information with recruiters. We’ve gotten nearly as many mailings from the armed services as we have from colleges. I still see the chubby two-year old and his constant companion, a stuffed dog named Brown Pup. The Sergeant sees an honor student who is sturdier than many varieties of trees.
I admire the Marines and the self-sacrifice they embody. I admire my son for the same reason. He’d do anything to help anyone, but I’m not sure they’d be a good fit for one another. All the same, it isn’t my life, isn’t my decision, isn’t my place to screen that call for him. I went to get him.
Handing It Over. We Hand A Lot Over To Kids.
He was lying on the floor, banging out some calculus homework. “You’ve got a call, it’s the Marines.” He told me it was no problem, he knew his answer.
I left him alone with the call. By alone, I mean I was out on the porch with the door open, pretending to unscrew the old screen door so I could hear. There were a lot of yes sir and no sirs. A few laughs. I know what his answer is going to be too. All the same, he is polite and respectful with the Sergeant, as he should be. He’s a great kid.
It hits me hard. It is easy to watch the news and hear about our “troops”. Each of these people are someone’s “great kid”. Those you see interviewed are usually officers – more poised, older, experienced. There in the background, and on the front line is a great kid whose prom pictures are hardly back from the photographer. Someone just like The Omawari-son. The voice on the phone talking to my son helped me realize how young those faces on TV really are.
That is the way it has been for generations. I think of WW II veterans as the older men they were portrayed as in films. They were just kids. Vietnam, same thing. And now the Omawari-son’s generation. Kids being sent to do the bidding of older men who’ve nothing to lose by sending them off on missions – some just, others questionable. Some kids never come home. God bless those kids and their folks.
Nicely Done, Gentlemen
The conversation goes on. There was a discussion of his height and weight. Something about his grades. Then on to a discussion of his future. He lays it out for the Sergeant. He is pursuing his goal of being an environmental scientist and while he has ideas toward a career in federal service, he doesn’t think being a Marine is that career. He tells me after the call that the Sergeant was very nice about the call not breaking his way. There was no pressure when it was clear the interest was not there.
I’d support my son in whatever career decision he made, as long as it ends up with him being a respectful, honorable man in addition to whatever formal title he earns.
I was nervous in handing the phone over to my son to talk to a recruiter. I’m proud to know there was an man on the other end who did his job by calling a great kid, but proved his honor by treating that great kid’s dream with the same respect he was accorded.
I hope the Sergeant’s dad is as proud of his great kid as I am of mine. He deserves it.