On Monday I changed my life in a dramatic and permanent way. I
enlisted in the U.S. Army. While I have not yet specified my MOS,
(that’s military slang for job description) I have indicated my
intent to enter into combat arms.
I am joining the service in tumultuous times. With a two-front
war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the U.N. Security Council preparing
to enact sanctions with Sudan, the world is, quite frankly, not a
safe place anymore.
As we woke up on Monday, we were all met with the headlines on
the covers of newspapers across America indicating the terror level
has been changed to orange, which indicated a high risk for
I hold my own political beliefs as liberal; yes, I dare to
describe myself with the dirty, dirty “L” word.
I believe in drastically higher taxes, or better yet a flat tax,
set at about 25 to 30 percent. There is a message you will
definitely, not be hearing from any of the presidential
I rabidly support the rights of all citizens of the United
States to marry, regardless of their sexuality. America has a lot
of problems right now, and too many loving couples are not one of
I also believe that we did not get into this conflict in Iraq on
the best of intelligence or decision-making abilities, a feeling
that has grown exponentially ever since I watched Michael Moore’s
recent film, “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
Since the conflict in Iraq began there have been 921 deaths in
the American forces – 684 from hostile activity, 237 from mishap as
the Collegian went to press.
I know that I may not return from Iraq alive.
There is the cold, hard truth: War is violent.
I’m not seeking glory or medals (well, maybe just a few ribbons
to wear on parade), and I’ve already seen a lot of the world. I’m
certainly not in it for the paycheck – being a professional soldier
is one of the few jobs that pay even less than what a professional
I offer to you an explanation. I’m not trying to “win hearts and
minds.” I am making this change in my life, a year from graduation,
because of my love for my fellow Americans.
We are in a war that many call illegal, including my own parents
who I can assure you are not pleased with my decision.
But I am going anyway. I am going because out there, fellows
Americans have chosen to put themselves in harm’s way. I am going
out there to help my countrymen and women in their fight. I have
knowingly made the decision that in risking my own life I might
Over the next few weeks I will be left with some very hard
realities: I may be killed, and I, too, may kill. As a journalist I
have always tried to be fair and balanced in all my stories that I
have written and most importantly to remain detached, in a
professional sense. But now it is my time to take my turn out on
I may be called upon to do what in our society is deemed one of
the most horrible crimes – the conscious taking of another human
life. I don’t find this idea appealing in the least, but I accept
it as a moral hazard of duty.
Should I survive my tour overseas, I may come home with the
knowledge that I made a wife into a widow and children into
As I ready myself for my chosen future, I will think back to
days spent idly chatting with friends. I will smirk with amusement
when I remember being patronized by Mormons on the Lory Student
Center Plaza. I expect I will even miss those anxious last Friday
class periods where the weekend is so close you can taste it. I
will miss the simplicity and security of living in Fort Fun.
I will return to college to get my degree, but for the next few
years I’ll be serving my country at the very tip of the spear.
If you still don’t understand my motivations, as I expect many
will not, I offer a final argument – I may die, but I choose to die
on my own terms as a soldier in uniform; too many people die in
freak accidents or from stupid mistakes. These people’s friends and
family will raise their arms to the sky and ask, “Why, oh why, did
this have to happen to them?”
There will be none of that at my funeral, for I choose to fight
and I knowingly choose to put my life on the line. If I do die,
don’t ask why; merely quietly nod your head and try to understand
that if I do die, I have died with purpose and pride.