Data Troll

Musings of a database designer, right-wing constitutional anarchist and overly idealistic schmuck.

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Location: Texas, United States

A middle-aged database designer, specializing in Oracle. I have a teen-aged son and Chinese wife.

Friday, July 08, 2005

A Surprise from my Son

There are times that our teenagers surprise us by making totally unexpected decisions that please us (but we don’t dare tell them; parents are to be irritated, not pleased). The best of these are the ones that show your kid to be a better, or more mature, person than the normal people you work with. I had one of those moments the other day.

My son Alan was already on my good side (for the most part) for having found himself a summer job finally, and apparently doing well at learning the ‘working-man’ skillset (a different animal than the ‘student’ skillset, which he now understands.) We had recently visited a couple college campuses to see where he might go after high school; he’s in the top 3% in his Plano school and has an interest in aeronautical engineering.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call from him that he had received a call from a Marine Corps recruiter and- despite not previously expressed interest and with no encouragement on my part- agreed to meet with the recruiter. Whether he’ll he go that route, I don’t know. But the fact that he actually is considering it pleased me. This is tough times for military people; he knows it, but is not afraid of the challenge or the risk. When I asked why the Marines, when the Navy or Air Force might serve his aeronautical interests better, he said ‘because they are the best’. I can’t argue that; my brother was a 20 year ‘Jarhead’ (veteran of Beirut, where this really started) and I know the Marines are the best. But everyone also knows they have the highest casualty rate; Alan knows this as well. I doubt if Alan is doing this out of any patriotic reason, but, if he goes this or another military route, that will come with time.

Let's get this straight; Alan is my only kid and he is my life. And I am fully aware of the current risks; I spent part of July 4th (before I knew of Alan's interest) reviewing the personal cost of freedom by reading up on our wounded soldiers on military blogs (Blackfive is one of the best).

I was as interested in the reactions of my co-workers when I told them about this. Most were shocked and one woman said she’d stand in the door blocking his path if her son wanted to talk to a recruiter; this from somebody supposedly ‘conservative’ in philosophy. How can so many people espouse a position, then be unwilling to live with the personal consequences themselves? Has their logic circuits totally failed?

I know my wife is concerned, but not to that level. She is Taiwanese Chinese, her father having served 16 years in wartime and several years afterward in Taiwan. She grew up with military service required for males in her country; it doesn’t frighten her, even in the current situation.

It was sad, really; these other people just don’t get it. You see, the day I started to fear for my son’s safety- at the same level my fear is today- was September 11th, 2001. It was that day that my grand illusion died; my illusion that we would be leaving our children and grand-children a world without widespread warfare. That, after the ‘Duck and Cover’ business and the dirty guerilla campaigns all over the globe, people were better.

How sadly naïve we were; how naïve many Westerners still are. This war is as serious as the Cold War, but played by a different set of rules- many still being formed- but even nastier and foggier than the previous ones. But it will still require one thing; people willing to risk their lives to protect and free the innocent. That’s what a U.S. soldier does; he puts on a uniform to mark himself as one to fight the good fight and also to proclaim themselves as targets; ‘come slug it out with me, if you want to fight!’

This new enemy does not fight that way normally; he is too cowardly and substitutes viciousness and fanaticism for courage and bravery. In London, we just saw one of the very new rules; everyday civilians are the primary target of this new opponent. How would I have felt if, instead of the Marine recruiter, my son was leisurely seeing London this week via the Tube? Even if he paints on that target of a soldier’s uniform, would I not prefer he do that, wearing the body armor and carrying the weapons our troops are so expert with? Many Americans will understand this only if New York City or Washington, DC is hit with a WMD. How many sons, whose mothers ‘stood in the doorway’, would die that day?

No matter what the outcome of the meeting with the recruiter, I will neither encourage nor discourage my boy. I will provide him with points to consider, let him make his own choice and then support him fully in that decision. But, no matter what the outcome, I am very proud of him; he gets it- maybe at only the sub-conscious level, but that’s better than most of my co-workers.