Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Semper Fidel

A story in the news that I find oddly troubling is about a 33-year old refugee from Cuba who is joining the Marine Corps to repay America for the freedoms he and his family now enjoy.

Such appreciation is a most noble impulse, and it's gratifying that a born again American totally gets what our nation purports to stand for. His wife and young daughter are sacrificing as well because he won't be paid for his two months of basic training at Camp Pendleton. It will be hard for them to make ends meet.

"I'm very proud of him," his wife said. And you have to admire the sense of obligation and courage that makes a person volunteer for the armed forces when most recruits are 15 years younger. How much easier it would be for him to lay low, enjoy his new status, and set about building a new life for his family.

Of course his income will improve drastically once he's actually in the service, and he'll be eligible for benefits for the rest of his life.

But oh, the irony if this man who has been here for only one year should die in Iraq, as so many Americans do every day. It isn't that I value his life more than theirs. All lives are valuable. He doesn't have to go, but neither did many of the other men and women fighting there. They're all so young. Their lives are supposed to be ahead of them.

He says that his life has just begun, now that he's in a free country. As an American, he is one year old. It doesn't seem right to send infants off to war. There is something aberrant about the idea that being a good American means learning to kill people, but too often we justify things because it's easier than trying to change them.

Many will think my views naive. I'm sure they're right. It's probably wrong to deplore a thing without offering an alternative, but I have no solution to this enormous cataclysm that claims us all in one way or another. All I can do is ponder these many lives lost for dubious gain, and feel sad.

"The main goal of the future is to stop violence. The world is addicted to it."
Bill Cosby

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