Monday, October 20, 2008

The War at Home

Jason has been a warrior his whole life. I have heard stories of his childhood obsession playing with green army men for years. He would play for hours in his room or in the yard strategizing and destroying the enemy. The most recent story I heard was when his soldiers would die, he would bury them then forget where and they would be lost.

“I didn’t just dig a hole and stick them in it; I had a service and all. I did it right,” he explained. I can tell you somewhere in south Austin, buried in the yard of his childhood home, are possibly thousands of small green army men. The graveyard.

It seems that some people know their destiny early. They, I believe, are the lucky ones. They are driven to be whom they know they are. After high school Jason went straight into the National Guard. A week or two into it he called home and wanted out. His mom and I talked and she decided to put the kibosh on his leaving.

“No, you don’t want to regret this,” she coaxed him. He knew in his heart she was right. He completed the time with honors.

Not long after returning from his National Guard training and duties he was milling around trying to figure out what he was going to do next. Police work became his next objective and he started his education at cop school. Upon graduation he found a position in a small town east of Austin and went to work. Police work was good to Jason. He shared story after story of his days and nights on the job. He loved his work and you could hear it in every word.

As he began his emersion into police work, each month he would report for National Guard duties. Then came 9/11. The world was thrown into frenzy. Americans raised their hands over their hearts and were proud to be Americans as we took on the terrorist of our world. They had attacked us all around the world and we were detached, but now they were in our country and everyone felt the heartache and patriotism. We are Americans and this is our country and that cannot happen here. Jason was standing tall ready to go should they call.

Eventually he moved to a bigger city and a new position in their police department. There he had drug duty and sting operations -- he loved all that. He always said, “I want to be in the tough part of the city – the rough side.” He usually was.

After years of weekends and summer training Jason’s time with the National Guard was coming to an end. He had never been called up to fight in Iraq, some don’t. He was well into his new job and had gotten married and had a newborn baby girl. Everything was in place. Except for one thing -- he had to decide, do I re”up” with the guard or not.

Resigning with the guard meant a lot of things. It meant he would be able to continue to work on the pension and other rewards he would eventually receive when he completed his service. But it also meant he was probably going to go to Iraq for a period of time, most likely a year or more. A decision that meant leaving his wife, new baby daughter and other family. It meant months of boot camp style training with long days and short nights.

We had long talks about the pros and cons of going to Iraq and the chances he would take. He went to council with others and prayed about it with his wife. When he told me he had decided to go and that they had a date for him to leave, I was mad. How, why, why now with the baby?
But I know why Jason went; I know why he is there. He is there because since he was little boy, he has been preparing to be an American soldier. He is there because deep inside Jason, ingrained in this young man with everything going for him, is the desire to serve his country. He is old school patriotic. He is willing to give his life so others may be spared the tragedy of 9/11 or something even more horrific. He is, like so many of our American soldiers, committed to the calling of God and country.

Don’t tell me American is anything less than great. Don’t put our president or our soldiers down in front of me. I stand next to my nephew who is headed to Iraq; I am humbled by his bravery, his honor of country, his willingness to die to protect his nieces and nephews. He is willing to sacrifice all he has for you and me. He is a man. I pray a legion of angels will protect him as he goes forward and that God will use him to minister to others in His great commission.

We can agree to disagree here in America and not have our hands cut off, our families killed, our daughters beaten and raped because of the freedom our soldiers have sacrificed for. So, tell me, what are you doing?

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