Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC. He struggled to lift his head. His body wiggled and his legs kicked, but he didn't move an inch. I was the invincible Marine attack pilot but watching him there literally drove me to tears. I was overwhelmed -- just like I was for every one of my 5 boys when they were infants -- by his utter helplessness.
He could not do anything for himself. I was overcome by the realization that his survival was totally dependent on the care Mary and I would give him. He literally couldn't live without us. As a new dad, the enormity of that responsibility was crushing. It took my breath away. I wanted to leave the room ... but I couldn't leave him alone.
4th Brigade, 101st Airborne 'Screamin Eagles' Division (please don't tell him, but I think he might be able to beat me up). More importantly, this is the day that young man is leaving for Afghanistan -- for FOB Sharana in the eastern province of Paktika on the Pakistan border.
After all the heart-warming West Point parades; after all the Army-Navy Game grief that has been exchanged; after all the academics that seemed so much like any other college; after all the military training he's undergone while we watched in knowing denial of its purpose -- today it all becomes real. Today my son gladly accepts the duty he committed himself to 5 years ago -- the duty to protect a way of life that I too often take for granted.
The wheel of history continues to turn but today that wheel seems upside down. Today my son feels invincible ... and I am the helpless one.