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My Stepson Wants to Join the Marines … Should He?

When my stepson came to his dad and me and told us that he wants to join the Marines, my first reaction was one of worry and a little dread. I wanted to express my fears about his safety, but I didn’t. I held them in check. That’s because, while I am a mom, I’m also the daughter of a U.S. Marine.

My dad was career military, being stationed on beachheads in Turkey and Iran where he worked in the engineering division making maps. He joined the Marines in 1956 and he retired in 1977. His time in Vietnam came at a price, as he was exposed to Agent Orange—he has endured years of disease and disability. He suffers in ways only those who know such pain can understand.

Still, my dad holds his head high and loves the Marines. When he goes out to dinner in Jacksonville where he and my mom still live, he always scans the restaurant and picks out a young military couple or a group of guys talking about their upcoming deployment, and he quietly makes his way over to them, leaning heavily on his cane, and picks up their tab. When my mom goes to the commissary on base, she often pays the bill of a young woman with children who’s in line with her.

I’m proud to have a father who was a U.S. Marine and who still serves the best way he can. To this day, he lives and breathes Semper Fi.

So, after reflection, the questions I posed to my stepson when I finally got past the initial motherly panic were: Is this what you really want to do? Are you prepared to fight, kill, and die for your country? Because if you’re just going in for the benefits and you don’t want to make the sacrifice that you’ll be called to, then you’d better not join. Are you truly willing to put your life on the line under orders you might not understand or even agree with?

He, of course, said yes to all. But the last question caused me to pause. I support my stepson’s decision, but as a conservative in the era of Barack Obama and a Democratic Party that is hostile to the military, I wonder if it is the right decision—not because I’m afraid of my stepson getting into war but because, to be honest–and I don’t like saying it–I do not trust the commander in chief.

My question to you is should a person even contemplate trust in the commander-in-chief when joining the military? Does devotion to country supersede who’s in the White House even though the president is the one calling the shots (and more so as Obama circumvents Congress)? Would you join the military or want your child to join under the command Obama? Do you think this presidency is different from any other, and should it cause one to be concerned about military service?

  1. Misthiocracy

    If worried about your son’s safety, I think now is the perfect time to join the military. The current commander-in-chief is loathe to send meat soldiers into battle, preferring to use drones instead.

    Furthermore, as robotics becomes more and more advanced, there will be fewer opportunities for meat soldiers to go into actual battle.

  2. EJHill

    Your son will take an oath to the Constitution, not the President.

    My son, too, is looking at the USMC. The ethos of the Corps is one of the last outposts of traditional American culture.

    By the way, I’m sure if your father were to read your post he would surely point out your one lapse of grammar:

    I’m proud to have a father who was a U.S. Marine and who still serves the best way he can.

    There’s a tense problem there. The word is not was, the word is is. Neither age nor infirmity nor duty status can change the fact that your father IS a Marine, now and forever.

    A Marine doesn’t die. Those that aren’t guarding the streets of Heaven have simply gone to Hell to regroup.

  3. Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    Let him.  It will virtually gurantee he never becomes a liberal.  USMC is a great bunch.  I am Army, but was attached to 1st MEF for the first few months of OIF.  Marines kick it old school.  I wish the Army was more like them. 

  4. The King Prawn

    The questions you posed, while good ones, will have the answers worked out in basic training. Even those of us who joined the military for the benefits develop a bedrock patriotism while in the service (at least 20 years ago we did.)

    As to the questions at the end, I say yes, the military is still a great vocation. One of the beauties of seperating our military from the government (as much as it is separate) is that it retains some autonomy. Those who serve may swear obedience to the CinC, but they swear fealty to the Constitution. Besides, who wants a whole generation of the military that is in lockstep with Obama and his kind?

  5. Lord Humungus

    I went through this. My kid serves. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Ya gotta let him go, Mom. I know it ain’t easy.

  6. Paul Dougherty

    I, like many, are looking for reason’s to hope for the future of this great nation. The institutions that keep us together and educate, build, adjudicate, legislate, and regulate are all showing signs of failing. The Marine Corps is not one of these, as of yet. I need a Marine Corps. We need a Marine Corps. It is not everthing that is virtuous, but the vast majority of those who serve within its ranks sincerely strive to be. That is enough. I cannot tell you if the Marine Corps is for your step-son, that is for him to discover. I can say that I have yet to meet the person who regets having served. They may be dismayed at circumstances that have occured, but regret joining? No. They exist, I am sure, but I haven’t met them.

  7. Black Prince
    Denise McAllister

    My question to you is should a person even contemplate trust in the commander in chief when joining the military?

    Absolutely…we shouldn’t be mindless automatons.  ”I was just following orders” won’t cut on the day of judgement.

    Denise McAllister

    Does devotion to country supersede who’s in the White House even though the president is the one calling the shots (and more so as Obama circumvents Congress)?

    This question can be interpreted different ways.  I think the question that you really want to ask is whether joining the Marines is devotion to country or to the President.  I personally think that it’s devotion to the President since he is the Command in Chief.

    Denise McAllister

    Would you join the military or want your child to join under the command Obama?

    Substitute “Josef Stalin” for “Obama” and you’ll get your answer.

    Denise McAllister

    Do you think this presidency is different from any other, and should it cause one to be concerned about military service? 

    This presidency is very different.  Anyone thinking about joining the military should have grave concerns.

  8. Black Prince
    Misthiocracy: …as robotics becomes more and more advanced, there will be fewer opportunities for meat soldiers to go into actual battle. · 23 minutes ago

    I don’t think that Denise’s issue is safety—it’s about ethics and morality.  Is it ethical for a citizen to engage in lethal force to further the aims of a decidedly an unethical Commander in Chief?

  9. JimGoneWild

    Not every Marine has a combat occupation, fights or goes to war. There are plenty of skill positions in the Marines that don’t involve combat status. I bet they need language experts, electronic technicians–jet engine mechanic was a 5 year commitment because of the training needed so it was very hard recruiting them. Go with your son and speak with the recruiter. In fact, talk with all the recruiters from all the services, you never know what you might find out. For example, the Army allows high school graduates to be helicopter pilots, most people don’t know that. Knowledge is power.

  10. Black Prince
    EJHill: Your son will take an oath to the Constitution, not the President.

    This may be true in theory, but what will actually happen in reality?

  11. Misthiocracy
    Black Prince

    Misthiocracy: …as robotics becomes more and more advanced, there will be fewer opportunities for meat soldiers to go into actual battle.

    I don’t think that Denise’s issue is safety—it’s about ethics and morality.  Is it ethical for a citizen to engage in lethal force to further the aims of a decidedly an unethical Commander in Chief? 

    I still think it would be a pretty safe bet that the current Commander In Chief won’t order the Marines to engage in lethal force during the next four years.

    The Air Force maybe, but not the Marines, for many of the same reasons the other posters have mentioned about why the Marines are so good.

    In short, I have trouble imagining President Obama admitting that he could ever need the services of the Marines.

  12. D.C. McAllister
    C
    Black Prince

    I don’t think that Denise’s issue is safety—it’s about ethics and morality.  Is it ethical for a citizen to engage in lethal force to further the aims of a decidedly an unethical Commander in Chief? · 7 minutes ago

    Edited 5 minutes ago

    I think this does get at what I’m asking. I understand their oath is to the Constitution, but so is the president’s, but he undermines the Constitution and yet is still the commander in chief. As someone who loves the Marines, this is a very real ethical dilemma for me, though I know my stepson would love serving and it would be good for him and those around him. I just don’t want him used by the president as the Black Prince has described.

  13. D.C. McAllister
    C
    EJHill: 

    By the way, I’m sure if your father were to read your post he would surely point out your one lapse of grammar:

    I’m proud to have a father who was a U.S. Marine and who still serves the best way he can.

    There’s a tense problem there. The word is notwas, the word isis.Neither age nor infirmity nor duty status can change the fact that your fatherISa Marine, now and forever.

    A Marine doesn’t die. Those that aren’t guarding the streets of Heaven have simply gone to Hell to regroup. · 29 minutes ago

    You are absolutely right! Thank you for the correction. I should go edit it.

  14. Black Prince
    Misthiocracy

    I still think it would be a pretty safe bet that the current Commander In Chief won’t order the Marines to engage in lethal force during the next four years….In short, I have trouble imagining President Obama admitting that he could ever need the services of the Marines.

    I disagree.  It is not a safe bet.  All bets are off when it comes to Obama.  Obama is a Josef Stalin in the making.  Yes, our situation is that serious.

  15. Misthiocracy
    Black Prince

    Misthiocracy

    I still think it would be a pretty safe bet that the current Commander In Chief won’t order the Marines to engage in lethal force during the next four years.

    I disagree.  It is not a safe bet.  All bets are off when it comes to Obama.  Obama is a Josef Stalin in the making.  Yes, our situation is that serious. 

    I think it would be more likely that he would try to purge the Marines before he’d ever try to use them.

  16. Devereaux

    Something different, Denise.

    Every Marine I know learned leadership, self-control, clear thinking, aggressive attitude (not necessarily behavior) and self-confidence. I look about and find a HUGE number of organizations are run by … Marines. It is not accidental that one of the common statements in the Marine Corps is: “It’s hard to be humble when you’re the finest.”

    Let him go. He may or may not stay, but he will learn much and it will stand him in good stead for the rest of his life.

  17. The King Prawn
    Denise McAllister

    Black Prince

    I don’t think that Denise’s issue is safety—it’s about ethics and morality.  Is it ethical for a citizen to engage in lethal force to further the aims of a decidedly an unethical Commander in Chief? · 7 minutes ago

    Edited 5 minutes ago

    I think this does get at what I’m asking. I understand their oath is to the Constitution, but so is the president’s, but he undermines the Constitution and yet is still the commander in chief. As someone who loves the Marines, this is a very real ethical dilemma for me, though I know my stepson would love serving and it would be good for him and those around him. I just don’t want him used by the president as the Black Prince has described. · 20 minutes ago

    “This too shall pass.”

    By the time your step-son gets through the delayed entry program, basic, and any MOS schooling required Obama’s second term will be half way over.

  18. Black Prince
    The King Prawn

    “This too shall pass.”

    By the time your step-son gets through the delayed entry program, basic, and any MOS schooling required Obama’s second term will be half way over.

    Hummm….so once Obama’s term is over everything will go back to normal and we won’t have anything to worry about.  I’m not so optimistic.

  19. Gödel

    Completely non-responsive to the questions (sorry!) but I can’t think about the USMC without thinking of Stan Ridgway’s odd, but oddly moving, musical tribute.

  20. Byron Horatio

    No, he should join the Army! Ok, I only jest. But if he has a good head on his shoulders and isn’t a criminal, he should be fine. I’ve had the honor my first two years as an officer to meet and train with a number of Marines. My best friend left the Corps and is a cavalry officer with me in the Army now. He is truly one of the most honorable and decent people I’ve ever met. A true war hero and tanker in Fallujah and incredibly humble. He joined the Marines 10 years ago in Puerto Rico and didn’t know a word of English. Doesn’t regret a thing.