Most folks who are familiar with me have heard me claim, “I am an army brat.”
Now I know what I mean by that but I think there are maybe lots of people who don’t.
There are many assumptions about what it means to be connected to the military.
Some are right and some are wrong.
My father and I argued and fought our way through the Viet Nam War. I am a pacifist.And though we debated every aspect of that war and war in general. My dad, an infantryman spent nearly half my life (at that time) in combat, ardently defended my right to disagree. I struggled with our differences for many years until the day came when I realized that my dad put his life on the line for an idea that was larger than himself. It is the greatest lesson I learned from him. I honor him for it. He modeled in real life what it means to live service to something greater than oneself. It includes hardship and sacrifice and one’s personal safety (physical or economic) is not assured.
When he retired from the Army and we moved off base for the first time in my life, I made friends with people whose dads sold tires, worked in banks, and were car mechanics. It felt so strange to me, at the time, that people lived their lives like that. I don’t know what I expected, I only know how different it was to be around people whose work was not the focus of their meaning.
Dad was not in service to ‘the military industrial complex’. He was in service to the ideas and values of freedom and justice. His sacrifices were enshrined in duty and honor. It was not enough to put oneself on the line, it was imperative that he live with honor. Those are the lessons he taught me that grounded my ability to challenge the church as I pursued my call to ministry as an open lesbian.
Today I stand with Lt. Col. Vindman. He acted according to his teaching and discipline. He believed in our system of laws and the mandates of honor required by the military. He expected our government to live up to its stated principles. He was betrayed by his commander-in-chief. He lives in service to an ideal greater than himself and has put himself on the line not only combat, but in standing up to a system that has been corrupted almost beyond repair.
Thank you for your service, Col. Vindman. Please know how full of meaning those words are. You are my family in that I know your service from the inside and am connected to you by history and intent. I see you and admire you for how you carry yourself with dignity and honor. I expected no less and you have done your duty.