My grandfather served in World War I, my father in World War II. I was a Marine in Vietnam. The longest love affair of my life is with the United States Marine Corps. I believe in its values, its commitment, its ethic of sacrifice and excellence. In a soft world of self-indulgence, there’s no fat in the Marine Corps soul. I’m so proud of my service that forty years later tears still come to my eyes when I hear the first words of the Marine Corps hymn: “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli.”
Shortly after 9/11, my son David, who had just graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in English, enlisted with great idealism. He endured grueling training to become an Air Force pararescueman (which is like a Navy SEAL) and served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan with elite Special Operations troops. When he was in the war zone, I couldn’t answer the phone at night. I couldn’t watch the news. I couldn’t understand how the rest of the country was acting as if there weren’t a war on. And I was one of the lucky ones. My son came home.
With each tour in Iraq, my son’s idealism eroded. He no longer believed the war was crucial to America’s security. He still served with pride and dedication, but his dedication was no longer to the elusive goals of the war—it was to his own honor, to the men in his unit, and to