I wrote earlier this week about my perceptions when I was in combat and I was thinking about what I would do now, should circumstances evolve to put me in a position to serve again (not outside the realm of possiblility with the recruiting fiasco, my age of 43, and several skills that would be quite useful over there).
I think about what my grandfather did in World War 2 when, at the age of 44, he was called on to fight for his country. They came in the middle of the night, in the Spring of '43, and knocked on the door. There were two men, both of whom he'd known all his life.
"Herman," they said. "Say your goodbyes, you have to come with us."
"I'm 44 years old and fought in the first war," my grandfather replied.
"They need men in Russia. It is not going well," they told him.
"And if I refuse?"
"Do you want to go to jail...or worse?"
And that's the way it went, as he told it to me. That night he said goodbye to his wife and his youngest daughter and left with the men to form up with the other able-bodied men from the town. My mother was already in the German Army, a nurse in a field hospital, and my uncle was serving with the folks who wore black (he enlisted in '39, as soon as war broke out; ended up in a French prison camp for 3 years for his trouble; good for him). Fortunately my grandfather survived.
Think it can't happen here? It makes me wonder what I'd do if orders came requiring me to report for duty. My first reaction is telling them to go fuck themselves. But there are others to consider. Would I disrupt quite a few lives of people I love by leaving the country, putting them through undue hardship? Would I go to prison...or worse and use that to protest the illegality?
Tough questions but I think I, like my grandfather, would go. It has to do not with my unwillingness to go to jail or put loved ones through Hell. It's because there are other guys already there, guys who could use the hand, who could use any help to get through it and get home for good. If I were called back, I don't think I could turn my back on them