In honor of Fleet Week (which starts Saturday in San Francisco), I have three Navy/Marine related stories to relate and I want to promote a few of my favorite Navy related blogs.
My daughter has started a new school and is making new friends. The other day, I met the Mom of one of these new friends. (I’m happy to say that both mother and daughter are nice gals.)
“Is your daughter an only child?” I asked. (Go ahead, say it: I’m nosy.)
“No,” she said, “I have a son, too.” Then, with the usual apologetic look one sees in Marin, she added “He’s joining the Navy next week.”
Having said that, the Mom cringed slightly, clearly expecting me to launch into a shocked lecture about the immorality of supporting our armed forces, especially with the blood of our young men.
“Wait! Wait! I’ve got to show you something,” I mumbled as I head to the stack of magazines on the kitchen counter. Ruffling through papers for a minute revealed what I was looking for: SeaPower magazine, which comes as part of my Navy League membership. I handed it to her, along with a statement of the obvious. “We’re big fans of the Navy in this house.”
Needless to say, she was delighted. We talked about boys becoming men in the military. She agreed. Being a mom, she’s a little worried about her 21 year old son (he’ll always be her baby) going into the Navy. Still, she realizes that her son needs a place to grow up and become a man — and our culture isn’t that place. We currently train boys to be perpetual adolescents with feminine emotional traits, rather than encouraging the best aspects of manliness (bravery, loyalty, honor, camaraderie, etc.).
I think the push to become a manly man, in the best sense of the word, applies with special force in their case, because she’s a single Mom living in a low-income, all-black community. Young men coming out of that community do not necessarily fare well in life. Her son apparently realized that sad fact himself, since it was he who wanted to go into the military. After a couple of years at the local community college, he was lost and felt he needed something more meaningful.
When the Mom left, she thanked me profusely. “I feel so much happier now about his decision.”
At the local dojo a few months ago, I asked one of my Mom friends (a second degree blackbelt, incidentally), what her son (also a second degree blackbelt) was going to do with himself during the summer. Her face got that familiar Marin grimace. She ducked her head and spoke softly. “You hadn’t heard? He’s enlisted in the Marines.” Then came the inevitable pause, as she readied herself to be berated (or to get a saccharine and insincere, “Well, that’s nice.”).
“Oh, my gosh! That’s so cool. Wait I minute, I’ve got something to show you.” I dug frantically through my purse and — yes, there it was! — dragged out my Navy League coin. She blinked, startled. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
“Wow! That’s wonderful.” she said. “I have to admit that this was a surprise to us. He came home one day and said ‘I’ve spent two years at community college, and I don’t know what to do with myself there.’ So he joined the Marines.”
My friend, who I assume is the usual Marine liberal then added something interesting: “You know, I’ve been thinking about this. We should have our best and brightest defending us. I think this will be a good thing.”
That was at the beginning of the summer. A little while ago, the young man graduated from Marine Boot Camp, down at Camp Pendleton. His mom sent me a photo of a young man absolutely radiating pride in himself and his uniform. Mom was also deeply impressed by the graduation ceremony, which she said everyone should see.
My life is carpools. Yesterday, I had in my car a darling 13 year old whom I’ve known since he was a little boy. I stand very high in his estimation. It’s not my charm, beauty or intelligence. It’s the fact that he learned, last year, that I have friends in the Navy, including an admiral. (Actually, I can boast about several admirals, since some of them might actually recognize me at a party if they ran into me.) I am now persona grata, since this young man has as his life’s ambition entry into the Naval academy, followed by a career as a SEAL.
This boy has been thinking about BIG ISSUES. “This is a really good time to get into the military, because I believe that we’re going to be in a very big war soon.”
“What makes you say that?” I asked.
“The way I see it,” he answered, “a few years ago, the news was filled with stories about the war. Now, though, there are no stories. I think they’re hiding something big.”
He was unimpressed with my suggestion that the media might have been trying to embarrass George Bush, whom they didn’t like, while trying to spare Barack Obama, whom they do like, the same embarrassment. “No, I think there’s something big.” He’s not quite sure who the enemy will be, but he knows there’s one out there.
Wrap-up to the above stories:
I think I should start a support group in Marin for those moms whose sons are entering the military. The message would be, we don’t all hate you and we think your sons are doing a good thing!
And now the links
There are, as you all know, myriad mil blogs out there, all of which are a testament to the high caliber of men and women who serve in our military. Since this is Navy/Marine Day at Bookworm Room, I’m just going to list my four favorite Seafaring military (and, perhaps, retired military) blogs:
If you know of Navy/Marine/Coast Guard/Merchant Marine blogs that deserve recognition, let me know.
Cross-posted at Bookworm Room
UPDATE: I’ll start adding reader suggestions here as they come in.