All the same, it's been two weeks of intense drama for me; on one day two unrelated friends of mine suffered the deaths of a loved one, and one of my closest family members seemingly gave up the will to live following the most horrible divorce I've ever known of, and now this:
Back in the Reagan years, in my late teens, I brought into the world a sweet little boy
I've been supportive of his individuality in all its phases, goth, ninja, super saiyan,
juggalo, worker, slacker, rap artist
On his eighteenth birthday, with some KU students who took him under their wing, he marched on Washington against the War on Iraq, five months before it happened, and tho he was in agreement, it was done as a personal favor to me. That's how good he is to his mom. And we have a lot of laughs together.
He's a good boy, and of course he means the world to me.
A couple of weeks ago he called me and said he was coming over to bring me some news I wouldn't like, "but it's all good." Naturally, I assumed it was another pregnancy scare, but that wouldn't be bad news. I need to be having some grandchildren if I'm ever going to know my great-grandchildren. But that's beside the point.
"I'm joining the Army Reserve," he says. I'd been suspecting this moment was coming, and was prepared. I concealed my feelings so well that I'm considering taking up Texas Hold 'Em or whatever as a career, that's how stoic I was. He rattled off all the lines you hear on the military recruiting commercials to counter potential parental objections, and I nodded understandingly.
His recruiter has promised him everything short of a recording contract, but at least the guy didn't lie to him about the possibility of being sent to Iraq. "Once you've completed your basic training, you'll serve for 15 months in either Iraq or Afghanistan, and then you'll only have to come around one weekend a month and two weeks a year!"
So I've been trying to prepare him for the ASVAB, teach him the military alphabet, chain of command, etc. I don't object to his military service. I support the troops in spite of my feelings about the war. Plus, I bet he'd look damned handsome sporting a Class A.
I just don't want my boy to kill. I don't want him to be killed. Not for Bush and Cheney's oil I don't. Since I found out what a Gold Star Mom was I knew I never wanted to be one. "If the cause it is just" I would be willing to make that sacrifice, but this cause isn't just. It's corporate. See: The Carlyle Group and Halliburton.
But, what with the deaths and the despondent sibling, my trepidation about the lad's impending foray into military circles went on the back burner for a few days. Until I saw this. Sorry if it's upsetting:
Here is the caption that goes with this photo:
A photograph of his daughter, Leia Ryan Baum, was placed inside the uniform of Sgt. Ryan John Baum during visitation at a funeral home in June 2007. "That's all he wanted to do, is come home and put her on his chest," said Dana Baum, Sgt. Baum's mother.
I don't mean to imply that Sgt. Baum died for corruption. He gave his life for you and me (although Halliburton and The Carlyle Group made lots of money on a war sold by lying that killed him).
That picture, though, is filling my mind with horror and sadness. In two and a half weeks my son will be heading away on a bus in preparation to go to war. That's why I'm typing this uncharactaristic blog entry instead of doing the work I'm days and months behind on, and wondering if it's helpful to share this stuff and let it all out, and thankful to anyone who read this.