My middle sister is leaving for basic training with the US Army in 9 days and I don't know how to feel about it.
Ever since she was in high school she wanted to go into the military. My knee jerk reaction was fear. We were (and still are) up to our necks in Middle East conflict. I couldn't bear the thought of my little sister being shipped straight from her high school graduation to Afghanistan. I breathed a sigh of relief when she fell in love and abandoned talks of enlisting.
My own personal feelings about the military are muddled and confusing, even to me. I support our troops and respect our veterans. I am thankful for every single sacrifice the men and women of the armed forces have made so that I can live and enjoy my freedoms. I tear up at every 4th of July parade when local veterans salute the memorial of a peer who died in combat.
I wish none of this ever had to exist. I am passionately non-violent. I try to promote peace and want to see all of our armed forces brought home... Just as soon as we clean up the mess we have made.
Six and a half years have passed. I have watched my sister grow into a mature, intelligent, compassionate woman. I was there when she and her high school sweetheart exchanged vows on the lawn of our childhood home. I saw her heart swell with pride when she held her nieces for the first time. I trust her and respect her as not only my sister but also as a woman. I have no choice but to see her decision to enlist as the right one for her. I cannot begin to explain how much respect I have for people who are willing to put themselves in harms way, just to protect me and my way of life.
Herein lies my biggest problem. She is my little sister. I am her big sister. I am supposed to protect her. How can I do that while she is serving in the military? I have shed tears. I have looked inside myself deeply. My objections to her choice are purely selfish. I want her close so I can protect her. So I know she is ok. I need to know that if she needs anything from fingernail polish to relationship advice I am right there.
Like a baby bird that has outgrown it's nest, it is time for my little sister to spread her wings. Time for her to realize her dreams and soar like an eagle. I have no doubt that she will excel in everything she does. She will face obstacles with determination and grow stronger with every single one she encounters. She is an incredibly strong woman with an amazingly smart head on her shoulders.
The easiest part of this all is to put my faith into her. To allow myself to know that she has made the very best decision. Even easier is to be proud. To be proud of the woman my little sister has become. To be proud to say that my sister is a soldier in the US Army. To be proud when she graduates from basic training and goes on to realize her dream of becoming Military Police.
It has taken me almost a full year to come to terms with her choice. I still have my moments of hesitation but I have to trust my sister. I have to trust that she is exactly who should be protecting and serving out country. I couldn't think of anyone better. I have come to realize that regardless of my personal beliefs I will support my sister and her journey.
The tears that will be shed next weekend will be of sadness to see her go but mostly pride to see the beginning of such an amazing adventure for someone I love so dearly.Spread your wings and fly to great heights my little sister. I love you.
|“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality,
it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and
- Jesse Owens