My wonderful brother, Peter gave Niklaus and Matthew a set of camo guns complete with grenades and helmet so now my cute, sweet boys are "off to war". The guns are pistols, sniper rifles, and machine guns that really make that realistic "rat-a-tat-tat" sound. I was always afraid that my brothers would get hurt or worse with their avid hunting, fishing and gun and archery sports that they engaged in. I think that's why it looked like everyone was holding their breath and looking at me while Matthew opened that gun set. Pete gave him a pellet gun last Christmas, which was fine with me, but I think they must have thought that a whole arsenal of fake weapons was a little different because Niklaus would certainly want to play with them!
When I had Katrina I vowed that I would never allow any children of mine to own toy guns. It wasn't like I would never allow them to have guns, I just wouldn't encourage violence by using play guns, you see.
Fast forward eleven years later and I can't even tell you how emotional I felt when I saw Matthew open that set on Christmas eve at Auntie Nina's house. The indignant mom in me is now completely suppressed by the proud mom in me and my heart swelled a thousand sizes in my chest because I all-of-the-sudden fast forwarded, in my mind, 10 years into the future and the possibilities of my baby going into service for our country became all too real! My Grandpa was there enjoying all of the craziness of the grandchildren. He didn't say anything either way about the gun set or the full scale war that all of the boys (big ones too!) engaged in in the living room complete with dramatic death scenes and diving into "bunkers" for a few minutes. I didn't ask him (who was in the Pacific during WWII) how he felt about any of that, but I think I saw a little pride, mixed with sadness in his eyes.
Like a good mom, I always try to keep neutral on all vocational choices open to my children and I don't push for any of them. If my boys want to be priests, so be it. If they want to be husbands and fathers, wonderful. If they would like to spend their young adulthood defending their country and their families, great! War and military service are for the young, especially. When one is young (say, between the ages of 18-24) one feels invincible and is formable and unfocused. The young have uncluttered minds that can distinguish right and wrong (if properly taught by their parents and mentors). I never thought I would encourage my sons to defend their country, knowing the horrors of war and knowing sons of my friends who have gone to Iraq. After seeing the series "Band of Brothers" for about the 10th time, I am convinced that war is awful, hell even, but it can make one appreciate the basics of life and build character and make a young boy into a great man, father, citizen.
I read a book called "Flags of Our Fathers" written by the son of one of the flag raisers on the island of Iwo Jima during WWII. The father never allowed the famous picture to be displayed in their home and was more known for his compassionate deeds as the town mortician and what a good man he was after the war and his momentary fame. It wasn't until he died that his son started to research his life in those earlier years and learned what developed his father's character and in the process, I believe the author grew up and learned a lot more about life than he had previously.
Never forget our men and women in the service of our country.
It seems like a simple thing, but it rarely ever is.
I think it's interesting that one of our founders had a wife that thought much like I do today. This is a quote by Abagail Adams who was the mother of five and was never formally educated but read herself into an awesome education:
"I begin to think, that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life....Man was made for action and for bustle too, I believe."
Here is another Adams, patriot, and noted "beerman" (heehee, the country needs those, too!):
"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men."