Friday, May 12, 2006

The Academy Experience (Part I)

I have hung up my cammies for the last time. Unless our President decides otherwise, I will more than likely never again wear the uniform of our nation's military. Let me be quick to say that I am confident in my decision. Let me be even quicker to state that I am even more confident in the troopers who now carry the torch and fight on our behalf.

I have moved on from the defense of our nation, to the defense of my community and the community of thousands of others. I have been hired by the Police Department in the city of Suffolk, Virginia and will soon be entrusted to protect and defend her citizenry. I am beginning week nine of the sixteen week long academy at the Hampton Roads Regional Criminal Justice Training Center. Upon completion of the Academy, I will have nearly seventeen more weeks of on-the-job training before I am turned loose to patrol the streets solo.

I am excited beyond words, yet at the same time I am as apprehensive as I have ever been. For the past ten weeks of the Academy I have been reminded that I have been chosen by a profession that may at any time require my life in the line of service. And while I am willing to sacrifice my life for those whom I am sworn to protect, I realize that some day, someplace, someone may take me from my wife and daughters. They say we public servants are an interesting breed...those of us who run in while others are running out. But that's just who we are and who I am. I do this for myself, but let there be no question, I do this for my wife and our children as well. I fight bad people who would do them harm; who would do you and yours harm. Understanding this, that there are many, many bad people who would do me harm, I see my training and my experiences in the Academy as the foundation on which my career will be built.

We are an interesting breed indeed and one which the civility of our communities depends. I am writing a new chapter in the book of my life, and I look forward to sharing my experiences.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Final Goodbye

"The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of "Cat," and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. "I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it," she said. "I think that's what he would have wanted."
© 2005 Rocky Mountain News, Photo by Todd Heisler.

First and foremost, my heartfelt and deepest sympathy goes out to the wives and families of these heroes. As a husband and father, I take great comfort knowing that if my life would have been required of me while fighting in Iraq, that my wife would have been given the same comfort and protection that Mrs. Cathy was given. It troubles me greatly that there are some in this country who put forth that my brother's deaths are some how the Almighty's retribution for America's moral decline. May I remind those misguided among us who argue this, that the same God said, "Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends." But that's another issuealtogetherr and right now, one which I don't care to debate.

On a personal note, in earlier posts I wrote about the changes that one goes through after experiencing war...the baggage that one brings home with him. It's a struggle and it has been for me...on many different levels. I've spoken to so many others who were "over there" and in at least one aspect, we all share the same feelings; we could have done so much more while we were there. None of us wanted to die over there; all of us were willing. But when we hear/see/read about the ones who are either still there or the ones who come home in a flag-draped casket, and we are now living a life of comparative ease, somehow it just doesn't seem fair. I've resigned myself to the fact that for as long as Marines are in Iraq, a part of me will feel like I belong there fighting with them. If I were still there, I don't have a single doubt that there would be 178,000 other Marines who want to be fighting right there beside me. We are a band of brothers and none of us would have it any other way.

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