Graduating to war

Here’s a moving story by the NY Times’ Samuel Freedman on ROTC graduation at the University of New Hampshire.

From the second seat in the front row of the auditorium, Rachael Brown rose and marched onto the podium, standing before the flags of her state and her nation. She wore the crisp olive coat and skirt of her Class A uniform, and her black flats gleamed with a spit-shine. As a sergeant strode across the stage and toward her, she raised her right hand to be sworn into the United States Army as a second lieutenant.

Three rows from the back of the same room, Karen Brown gazed on this most improbable spectacle. Here was the daughter she had told about her own days protesting against the Vietnam War, the daughter who had led cross-country ski trips through the White Mountains, the daughter who had made that Bulgarian cheese casserole for the international dinner in her dormitory. And that daughter was culminating four years in the R.O.T.C. program at the University of New Hampshire and taking up what soldiers call “the profession of arms.”

After Rachael, 22, had recited the oath, Karen Brown walked to the podium. She had on sandals and a batik peasant dress, and her corn-silk hair fell straight to her shoulders. At the appointed moment, she pinned the second-lieutenant’s bars on Rachael’s uniform. Then she lightly patted the bars, with a tenderness that suggested she was patting her memory of a little girl she wished to protect.

Rachael Brown, who will work in medical support, exchanges e-mails with a female friend who’s now serving as a military engineer in Afghanistan.

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Comments

  1. God bless Rachael.

    And while I am at, God bless Pat Tillman. May he rest in peace.

    I’m hoping that a generation of American boys learn patriotism from Mr. Tillman’s sacrifice.

    And, maybe they will start to learn something different about what it is to be a man.

  2. I know a family from Oakland, CA. The parents never bought a house–it was always cheaper to rent so they could send their two sons to college.

    Against the wishes of the parents, the older son went to West Point. Two years later, his younger brother followed. The older brother graduated last June and has been in Iraq since January.

    He saw his first “real” action a few days ago, when a bad guy tried to drive a truckload of explosives into their compound. This 22-year-old “kid” I knew was one of the first on the scene.

    How did I hear about this? His proud father sent me an email.

  3. Nina D. says:

    “And while I am at, God bless Pat Tillman. May he rest in peace.”

    Tillman was an outspoken atheist, yet people everywhere do not respect his beliefs and wish to convert him posthumously.

  4. Ken Two says:

    A friend has told me about an article written by Kay Hymowitz titled “It’s Morning After in America” in City Journal at http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_2_its_morning.html

    Mrs. Hymowitz says a lot of things about our current generation of young people that are cause for hope and promise, not the “sky is falling” sense one gets with newspaper headines and evening news.

    The writer asks us to check America’s pulse and claims “What is emerging is a vital, optimistic, family-centered, entrepreneurial, and yes, morally thoughtful, citizenry.”

    Also included in that list are young people like Rachael.

    God Bless them and protect them.

  5. I am aware of Mr. Tillman’s beliefs.

    I am also aware of my own.

    I’m not converting him. And, once again, God bless Mr. Tillman.

  6. Walter Wallis says:

    Us grown men don’t cry.
    Often.

  7. Mad Scientist says:

    Although I am also an athiest, I applaud Mr. Tillman and all of our servicemen and women who protect the rights I enjoy. Even the ones who have made poor choices and questionable ethical decisions in Iraq.

  8. Mark Odell says:

    Stephen wrote: God bless Rachael.

    May God protect her from the errors and hubris of her new masters.

    I’m hoping that a generation of American boys learn patriotism from Mr. Tillman’s sacrifice.

    I’m hoping they and the girls learn patriotism too, and that Mr. Tillman’s tragic sacrifice is seen in its true light.

    Mad Scientist wrote: I applaud Mr. Tillman and all of our servicemen and women who protect the rights I enjoy.

    And when our armed forces are restored to that and only that proper function, I’ll do handstands.

    Even the ones who have made poor choices and questionable ethical decisions in Iraq.

    What is your opinion of the ones who blew the whistle on Abu Ghraib: those who did not “just follow orders”?

  9. Mad Scientist says:

    Mark, I hope you are not a teacher. What you teach is contrary to the values of this this country. I will personally pay for a one-way ticket for you to the socialist paradise of your choice.

    And my opinion of the ones who blew the whistle is: Bravo for them. Doing the right thing is sometimes very difficult and can put you at risk. They did the right thing.

    Tell me, what’s it like to be an angry young man?

  10. Mark Odell: Under it’s previous management, Abu Ghraib was a place where thousands of Iraqis were tortured to death. So, what do you think of the people who were against removing that regime from power?

  11. I wish Rachael well. I am sure that she will make most Americans very proud – but probably not those who think as Mark Odell thinks.

    Her graduation is a lovely story. Too bad more people don’t give back to the country that has protected so many from despots and tyranny.

  12. Mad Scientist says:

    Mark is so fond of pointing us to definitions that he should lead us to two others: duty and honor.

    It seems he has no sense of either.

  13. Mark is the kind that made up those who abused in Abu Ghraib.

    As for Rachael Brown, THAT is a success story. To live in what appears to be a house of liberal loonies and still come out with your head screwed on straight (all the above was certainly my opinion) – I’m proud of her and I don’t even know her. About the only praise I have for her mother was the fact that she seemed proud for what her daughter had accomplished, although it also seemed that it was completely opposite of her views. I can only hope that the mother finally comes to understand what the daughter already does (and Mark has no idea about).

  14. Mark Odell says:

    Mad Scientist wrote: Mark, I hope you are not a teacher.

    Your wish is granted.

    What you teach is contrary to the values of this this country.

    Because….?

    I will personally pay for a one-way ticket for you to the socialist paradise of your choice.

    Thanks, but no thanks; like the man said, I’ve been to Massachusetts. [#46]

    And what did I say to lead you to the conclusion that “what I teach” has anything whatsoever to do with socialism?

    And my opinion of the ones who blew the whistle is: Bravo for them. Doing the right thing is sometimes very difficult and can put you at risk. They did the right thing.

    At last, something we agree on.

    Tell me, what’s it like to be an angry young man?

    I wouldn’t know. (Check your premises.)

    In any case, better complaint than apathy.

    markm wrote: Under it’s previous management, Abu Ghraib was a place where thousands of Iraqis were tortured to death.

    (Note well how all USG responsibility for sponsorship of its previous management slips down the memory hole.)

    And, under its new management and in its shiny new facilities, if similar or worse atrocities do occur, I predict that you can be guaranteed not to find out about them (not from “credible” sources, at any rate).

    So, what do you think of the people who were against removing that regime from power?

    You mean, people like our foreign policy establishment? Donald Rumsfeld? George H.W. Bush?

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I have no problem with ‘regime change’ in Iraq; the trouble is, it doesn’t stop there.

    To address your question directly: it depends on exactly why they were against it.

    Beth Donovan wrote: I am sure that she will make most Americans very proud – but probably not those who think as Mark Odell thinks.

    I can’t speak for others who think the way you seem to believe I think, but only for myself: Her achievements are fine and dandy, very commendable; but I fear they are (or will be) wasted in the service of the central government (as distinct from the country), not necessarily in exactly the same way that Mr. Tillman’s were, but gone to waste nonetheless.

    Mad Scientist wrote: Mark is so fond of pointing us to definitions that he should lead us to two others: duty and honor.

    “Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily.” — Heinlein

    As to honor, which one of these didn’t you read?

    It seems he has no sense of either.

    Perception is not always reality.

    mike wrote: Mark is the kind that made up those who abused in Abu Ghraib.

    You’ve lost me; I can’t imagine what I might have said to give you that idea. Please explain.

    I can only hope that the mother finally comes to understand what the daughter already does (and Mark has no idea about).

    And that would be….?

    But, I’m glad to see that the telepathy helmets are working at peak efficiency, so you can read exactly what I do or don’t know; what I do or don’t think; and what my “real” position is without your having to ask or my having to answer. Good job! {/sarcasm}

  15. Mad Scientist says:

    Mark, do you have any perception as to how childish one looks when one deconstructs everything sentence by sentence? That does not make for a rational argument.

    You seem to get all of your news and opinion from the “Alternative Reality Press”.

    Just try, for once, to show a little gratitude to the people who protect your freedom.

  16. Mark Odell says:

    Mad Scientist wrote: Mark, do you have any perception as to how childish one looks when one deconstructs everything sentence by sentence?

    Personal Attack

    (Translation: “I can’t answer your de[con]struction of my argument with anything substantive, like facts and logic, because I led with my chin.”)

    No, as a matter of fact I don’t. Is the act of responding directly to what you wrote “childish”? If so, in what way? Would you care to explain exactly what you mean by “childish”, and enlighten us on that subject?

    Do you have any perception as to how pitifully-unimpressive one looks when one fails to engage substantively and rebut specifically the actual statements one’s opponent made?

    That does not make for a rational argument.

    What process of reasoning leads you to that conclusion?

    Would you be so kind as to point me to an example of what you consider to be a “rational argument”? Or, mount one of your own, and enlighten us about how it’s done?

    You seem to get all of your news and opinion from the “Alternative Reality Press”.

    Appeal to Ridicule

    Just try, for once, to show a little gratitude

    Gratitude, or propitiation?

    to the people who protect your freedom.

    Whoever they might be: Would it be too much to ask if, having done so, they would please just stop there?

  17. Mark Odell says:

    And furthermore, I don’t owe the military anything.

    (BTW Mad Scientist, please note that when you marshal facts and logic, I tend to agree with you more often than not.)

  18. Mike from Oregon says:

    For the record, I’m the same person who made the earlier post as “Mike” but realized that there are other “Mike”s posting.

    Mark – you DO owe the military for your freedom, as do I, as does everyone who lives here. Without the military who would stop a socialistic government like France from coming over here and taking everything we have. You sound like the pacifist who is totally non-violent until he is shown the error in his ways (i.e. a fist in the gut, and every time he says he’s “non violent” he gets another fist in the gut, until he learns that if he is truly “non violent” he would soon be dead if someone wished).

    Granted, the French are too chicken to come over and take us over, but the bottom line is the same, there had better be some reason for some country (Iran comes to mind) to not try to take us over.

    BTW – I agree with Mad Scientist, since you don’t like it here (where we defend our country and are a capitalistic society) I’ll help kick in for your ticket to France or whatever socialist country you would like to go to.

  19. Mark Odell says:

    Mike from Oregon wrote: Mark – you DO owe the military for your freedom, as do I, as does everyone who lives here.

    Nope, sorry, I still don’t; but if I did, then exactly what would I owe them? Gratitude? Propitiation? Unquestioning blind loyalty (see: führerprinzip)? Absolute and abject groveling obeisance? Where would this progression necessarily stop?

    Without the military who would stop a socialistic government like France from coming over here and taking everything we have.

    Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto perceived what you evidently do not:
    “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.”

    You sound like the pacifist who is totally non-violent until he is shown the error in his ways (i.e. a fist in the gut, and every time he says he’s “non violent” he gets another fist in the gut, until he learns that if he is truly “non violent” he would soon be dead if someone wished).

    Then I fear you’ve misunderstood what I wrote; I suggest you scroll back up and read it again. Also, you make a very common (and potentially-fatal) error, that of mistaking “non-aggression” for “non-violence”.

    Granted, the French are too chicken to come over and take us over, but the bottom line is the same, there had better be some reason for some country (Iran comes to mind) to not try to take us over.

    See above.

    BTW – I agree with Mad Scientist, since you don’t like it here (where we defend our country and are a capitalistic society) I’ll help kick in for your ticket to France or whatever socialist country you would like to go to.

    Would you please explain exactly what process of reasoning leads you to the conclusion that I “don’t like it here”; or that I think the defense of our country (as distinct from actions which are misidentified as that) is a bad thing; or that what I wrote has anything whatsoever to do with advocating socialism? I don’t understand how anybody arrives at that conclusion, except by a long jump that would put Carl Lewis to shame.