The Mission

05Jan08

Since last night, I’ve been replaying a part of my conversation with Clyde over and over again in my head. We were discussing my respect for the fact that his mission is more important than I am. Frankly, until he said something, I didn’t consider it all that remarkable. How could I claim to love a soldier and not respect that basic tenet? This is important to him. This is what he chose. I have no right to stand in the way, or to make him feel guilty for this. He may not have chosen his deployment, but he chose his service. He has a job to do, and I want to support him in that, as I want to support him in all of his endeavors.

The mission comes first. Egos be damned. It is the same when you are the partner or spouse of a soldier. What WE need matters much, much less than the mission. What we simply want doesn’t mean anything at all. Deal with it, or get away. We are a distraction to begin with. Don’t make matters worse by trying to place yourself before what is best for your soldier. The same goes for me, and for Clyde. I would rather him die protecting another soldier than for him to be the sole survivor and come home to me, not only because I respect the mission, but because I know that he would make that same choice, given the slightest chance. Yes, I want him to come home. I also don’t want anyone else to have to deal with the harm or death of a loved one just so that I don’t have to, nor do I want Clyde to feel that he didn’t do his job, that he lost his honor as well as a comrade. That would haunt him forever. Those men and women out there with him have a bond with him I can never share or break. I don’t know war. I don’t know that kind of fear. No matter how many times Clyde may tell me what he’s seen, or how he feels about it (which he hasn’t even bothered to do, and I don’t ask), I will never truly understand. I know this. I accept this, and I trust that his training and his squad will help him through it, because I know that I can’t.

The mission is what matters. It is what they have chosen. To interfere is to show how small your love truly is. Come home with your shield or on it. There is no in between. Defeat is preferable to surrender. Death is preferable to capture. Nothing is as honorable as death in the name of your brothers. This is the way it is. Accept it, or leave it be. It cannot be changed. It’s called honorable survival.

I was raised with these beliefs. They didn’t just suddenly appear when Clyde came into my life. I believed them when I had no stake in them. How can I change that now, just because I have a personal interest? How can I ignore what I know to be true just because it is inconvenient? I can’t, and I won’t, even if the way is shown to me.

It is not only warriors who can have honor.

~Betty

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