Thursday, September 29, 2016

Duty to God and his country

This is my older brother.

His name is Anthony.  He is a lot of things. He is a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a runner, and also really tall.  In addition to all of these things, he is in the United States Air Force.  This last statement means different things to different people.  To some it brings a feeling of pride, to others, a feeling of anger, to some a deep concern and to others still, resentment.  Perhaps if you knew Anthony as a person you would think differently about his choice of life paths (and perhaps you wouldn't).  

Anthony is incredibly loyal.  He is duty driven.  He is very self-motivated.  

Anthony has always wanted to be in the military.  Since the time he was about 11 he knew that was the road he wanted to take.  His motivation was not fueled by the desire to become wealthy, it was not driven by the need to be recognized.  It wasn't even the benefits, stability or good pension offered by the United States military.  Anthony's determination to be in the military came from a deep and unyielding desire to serve and to protect.  He loves his country, but recognizes its flaws.  He has always wanted to be part of the force that strives to maintain the freedoms this country was founded upon, despite those flaws. He has worked tirelessly at this goal, and has nearly been knocked down completely in the process.  He has not let that discourage him, however, and is continuing to achieve that initial goal.

Anthony is, as of recently, on his first deployment overseas, away from his wife and three children.  He will be staying in the Middle East for 6 months, missing major holidays, birthdays and various other milestones.  I cannot speak for others, but his motives are completely selfless.  He left his family and flew off into the seemingly unknown.

I have attempted to put myself in the shoes of his wife, my sister-in-law.  I have wondered countless times what my reaction would be if my husband was being sent away to a war zone, or if I myself was being sent to a war zone to be apart from my family for that long, or in many cases, longer.  The only thing that has settled my heart in this is knowing that he is doing exactly what he has always wanted to do.

I have realized it is easy to be selfish given the situation, but I know this is what my brother has always wanted, and I know he is doing it for me, and for you, and for that guy over there, and for the lady next to you. Regardless of whether or not we (or they) want to accept his "gift", he is giving it.  Because of this, instead of lamenting and "wo-is-me"ing, I have decided to be proud of him, to show him my love, confidence and support.  I am eternally grateful for the kind souls along his way even thus far that have shown small tokens of respect.  To the man who gave up his first class seat for the young guy in uniform, your kindness has been read about across the country. To the ticket agent who stifled tears while checking him onto the flight, we see you.  To the line full of passengers watching this soldier hug his family with their own tears streaming down faces, thank you for recognizing that this is not easy.

My mind has also wandered to those who are vehemently against the military and its operations.  I respect and I understand that position.  I know that I do not always agree with the undertakings of the military. So how can this position  be maintained while still having respect for the people who are sacrificing for you?  I believe it is possible.  I suggest that it is a similar to having differing religious, political, social or educational beliefs as someone.  I respect and am grateful for opposing ideals and relish in learning about them, though I may not adopt them as my own.   Perhaps if you are reading this and disagree entirely with what is happening, you can read between the lines a bit and understand that this is about a human being who has dedicated his entire professional life to something he deeply believes in, whether the rest of us do or not.  Aaron Tippin said it perfectly when he said "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything."

This is Anthony's something, and he is damn good at it.