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I am very proud of my oldest daughter. She is everything a Catholic father would hope for in a child: A strong and wise mother, a devoted wife, a burgeoning theologian, and a veteran. The latter came as a bit of a shock. After a couple months of post-high school aimlessness she called me at work to announce that she’d joined the Navy–something I’d never expected. A few weeks later my wife and I, along with my two younger daughters, drove Constance to Butte, the location of the Montana military induction center. Frankly, we weren’t quite sure she would take the final step of raising her hand and swearing to defend her country. But that morning, amid streaming tears and urgent hugs, she walked through the center doors and assumed her duties as a recruit.
I’m not much given to strong displays of emotion, but as we drove back to Billings, I had to stop from time to time as I was unable to see the road through my wet eyes.
The next day, as I was about halfway through a deposition, my secretary buzzed to tell me that one of my kids was on the line. I asked Nancy to take a message, but she frantically told me the call came from boot camp. When I answered all I could hear was the sound of the drill instructor shouting. Constance’s message was brief: “Dad, I’m here, I love you.”
Three months later I would travel to Chicago (the location of the Great Lakes Navy Recruit Training Center) to watch her march by, resplendent in her dress blues, a newly minted sailor. Later that day I took her on a tour of the Windy City. Funny how the little things are so charming. All she really wanted to do was head to McDonald’s, where she scarfed down three Big Macs, an enormous order of fries, and a coke large enough to quench a forest fire. Children, even when they’ve grown into adulthood, will always be children. Besides, the Navy was not inclined to over stuffing recruits.
It was early December, 1999.
Two years later Constance would be called upon to dive into the fray: She volunteered to serve as a relief worker at the Pentagon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She was twenty years old.
Today at The Federalist she remembers and calls upon all of us to remember too.Published in