Sunday, April 20, 2008

Marines in my life

As some of you know, my surrogate brother was, until very recently, in the Marine Corps. In some ways, there's the kind of tension you might expect between us about it; and yet there are other ways in which he understands some of the peace work I've done out of my convictions as a Friend -- peace witness in the Middle East; American Red Cross Disaster Relief and Armed Forces Emergency Services work -- better than anyone else in my family.

I just found out that a dear cousin on another side of the family, who's graduating from high school this June, has enlisted in the Marines. He tells me he's shipping out in September.

And I am having a hard time with this.

My brother was considerably older when he enlisted. He started in the reserves. He fought in Desert Storm. He's always been older (and taller) than I am. There are times when I've been scared for him, and for my family, but I've had, I don't know -- a certain acceptance of his decision to serve this way.

My cousin is eighteen. He's starting on active duty. We're in the middle of a long war. I held him as a baby. He's only been taller than I am for a couple of years.

And, from the soldiers and families I've worked with as a volunteer, I have some sense of what he's going into.

I'm scared for him, and I don't have that same kind of acceptance of his decision.

I know he's going to learn a lot about himself, and he's going to grow. And I'm looking forward to seeing that.

But I am not looking forward to the rest.

I wish I could protect him in the same way I held him as a baby.

Not a sentiment he'd appreciate, I think. :)

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