A father's pain
I was in the Berkeley bowl, wearing my t-shirt that says “Protect Our Youth” on the front, “End War Recruiting” on the back and a slender, stubbled chin white male with short greying moosed hair, designer glasses, and a small indentation on his skull surrounded by scar tissue told me he liked my shirt.
Then he proceeded to say he wanted to tell me a story. His son is presently in the Coast Guard, about to be shipped overseas. Several months ago, shortly after Obama took office, he accompanied his son to the Coast Guard recruiters. He sat there with his son while the recruiter steadily looked them both in the eye and tell him and his son that he had less than a 1% chance of being sent to Iraq.
A 1% chance. Everyone relaxed.
And IF he was even part of that 1%, the recruiter is so doubtful and even amused as if contemplating the day the sun doesn’t rise, he would not be on land or near combat but patrolling the seas.
He and his son sighed a unison relief, for this was the condition he was permitted to leave Dad, skip college, and join the Coast Guard. They both believed the recruiter and signed on the dotted line.
The father leans haunted eyes towards me, a bitter smile curdling the words “one week before basic training was up, my son was told he was going to patrol a base inside Iraq.”
His smile turns helpless as he tells me about the several weeks of total isolation his son was from his family, friends, everyone on the outside. They couldn’t call, write, email, text.
His pained words claim his son is now lost, lost to the military and his “buddies”; how his son told him he cannot resist, he cannot leave, he cannot desert his “buddies” even though they both agreed he would not in an unjust, illegal war.
Now it is about his buddies; not about his father, his morals, his life - let alone the lives of Iraqis: but only about the lives of those buddies of his.
His father didn’t know I would tell his story on my blog. But he thought it was important that I know, that I would spread the word, that someone else shares his pain, the betrayal of this recruiter, the lies used to entrap his son and the power of the military to keep his son trapped.
In the Obama era.