Something probably too serious for this blog…

Sorry, no download below the fold or punchline comin’.

No way to set this up that isn’t either incredibly flippant or way too sentimental for me.

My stepson’s going to Iraq in a matter of weeks.

He just left our house from his (way too short) summer break after wrapping up college and is headed to Fort Dix, New Jersey for some final training before being deployed in country.

I’ve been tightlipped about this for a number of reasons, not the least of it’s been my own inability to process all this beyond YOU STUPID FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!

Kids will do the god-damndest things. We used to do shit like vandalize things or go see the Butthole Surfers tripping on acid, not join the military during a time of war!

But E has always been that way. Always been independent and headstrong.

The day we started bombing Iraq, E shaved his head at six in the morning, skipped school (he was in High School, then) and went and sat in the streets of Portland, blocking traffic with several Anarchist Black Bloc types. He got seriously into politics, volunteering for our local Democratic Party office. He studied foreign policy in college and when his funding dried up (fuck you, George!) , instead of reaching out to us, he started talking to recruiters. He wanted to go to Afghanistan. He felt it was the just cause and that that country needed help. He was allowed to join a unit that did Civil Affairs and hoped to work in rebuilding the countries that we were and are blowing the shit out of.

But he was not at all surprised that his unit was reassigned to Iraq. Now he’s going. I still can’t believe it. His mom and he spent a long weekend together, driving around the area of his base. He didn’t have a blanket with his cot in the barracks, so he took one out of our van – an old kid’s Disney Pocahontas comforter. E says he’s taking it to Iraq with him.

I know the odds of him coming back in one piece are good; He’s in a non-combat unit in a province that doesn’t see much action but is in bad need of some infrastructural repair. I do worry for his mental state. He’s a sensitive kid with a huge heart. I hope he finds a way to deal with the darkness and horribleness of what that country’s going through and what war also does to the so-called good guys.

As I said, I’ve been reluctant to talk about it up to now. Few people but those closest to me know about this. Also, most other people’s discussion of it upsets my wife, who is dealing with it in a most incredible way. She’s sure an inspiration to me. My wife’s a good example of someone who can let hope carry her, rather than endlessly worry, although she’s not without worry over this.

I also didn’t want to have to hear people’s worry and negativity gears grind over this on our behalf. It’s enough to deal with it ourselves, but there’s something in people where they will reel out all the recent horror stories about Iraq and the war and it would only amplify my own worry.

So now, we’re going to be one of those families that are on edge until we get that email, that MySpace bulletin or that cellphone call from our kid.

I never thought we’d be one of those families.

Not in a million years.


  1. When a brave person makes a bold and selfless decision and puts it into action you have to be proud and hope for the best. Good fortune be with you all.

  2. Wow, wish i had something useful to add, and I can only imagine what you feel. From protesting the shebang to joining up the armed forces is one of the weirder routes you could have ever imagined. My young, unmarried single mother niece just tried to join up as well. Thankfully even the military thought that was a bad idea. Young people are always attempting to reinvent their own wheel, and on a perpetual “Young Turk” road to discovery, even if everything seem’s pretty well lit and mapped by now. I suppose rejecting the parental/elder path is key to their identity…hey, what’s more rebellious than our generation dosing on acid to the Butthole Surfers and shedding middle class complacency? Now with punk rock a mall rat habit, I guess going full aggro, and joining the ranks of the armed forces? I guess that’ll prove if yer individuality & mettle can survice eh? I wish the best for yer boy…and his whole generation… at least he ain’t sitting at home playing videogames and jerking off to Korn…

  3. My apologies for insisting on the subject, but I’d like to comment on the two comments above.

    I think the problem is that armies are forced to perpetuate themselves, and therefore they need to take advantage of those “selfless decisions”, as it was put by the commentator above (Mike?). However, there are plenty of other ways to put into action your ideas to help people, perhaps less glamorous and romantic, but equally (or even more) effective. I’m thinking voluntary work, international help missions, etc.

    My opinion (coming from a south-american country that spent several years under military dictatorships) is that armies are very good at finding those weak spots we all have (I don’t want to use the term “brainwash”) and exploiting them to guarantee their self-perpetuation. I’m not anti-army per se, but I do tend to take with caution everything they say and do (think the worse and you won’t be wrong, my granmother used to say). And the same can be said about any power-sharing institution (religious, professional, etc). They need to survive, whatever it takes.

    I sincerely hope these ramblings are not considered aggresive or offensive. I think we all need to discuss those subjects: it’s the only way to avoid more errors.

    All the best


  4. Sorry: I don’t know why a smiley appeared in my previous post. I don’t like smileys – maybe I accidentally juxtaposed a colon and a bracket.

    please ignore it



  5. we need army’s to fight enemy’s and help friends but some peoples never get it right. or maybe thats just the way they are.

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