February 06, 2008

DISPENSIBLE

The Flag has to come first
if freedom is to survive.
--Col Steven Arrington--

Every once in a while, something on the internet takes my breath away.

Over Our Dead Bodies

This is something I don't like to talk about because it makes me seem cold and cruel. I also think it makes me somewhat out-of-the-ordinary. And some will think I'm plain psycho for even thinking such things. But I believe in the premise of this article, that man is dispensible for the greater cause.

My husband is one of those dispensible men.

I have tried to come to terms with exactly how that makes me feel. And Lord knows I don't ever want to have to put my convictions to the test. But should I have to, I will come back and read that article again and find solace, and I will try very hard to remember in my grief what I knew to be true before grief struck.

I have thought about this a lot over the past years, as you must when your husband's job is war. But I've thought about it in other scenarios too. There was an episode of 24 where terrorists hold a wife and kid hostage and send dad out to provide a detonator to the man holding a nuke. Dad would do anything to save his family, even enable a nuclear weapon.

No way.

I put myself in those shoes, and I just couldn't do it. There's no way I could kill 20,000 to save my 2. I'm not going to go Keyser Soze on my family, but there's no way I will cooperate in arming a nuclear device just to save my husband.

He and I have also talked about this in regards to Jill Carroll and the Brit hostages. I will not beg and grovel, I will not trade his life for the lives of others, and I will remember in my heart the brave Fabrizio Quattrocchi as I do the hardest thing that could ever be asked of a person.

My husband is dispensible.

I do not say that lightly. Not at all. The moment I typed the words, I felt the beginning of tears.

But my personal happiness is not more important than my country. I will do my best to remember this, even when I often think that the Middle East is not worthy of my husband. I will remember that surely there were wives who thought that their husbands' lives were not worth taxation without representation, the end of slavery in far away states, or fear of the domino effect. Yet they sacrificed their husbands, and I would do the same.

That is our profession. Harooh.

I think the movie 300 took people by surprise. The Spartans were not a perfect society, not by a long shot, but they lived by the credo that men are dispensible for Sparta. And the movie resonated with people because they still want to believe that such men are out there. They want to believe that 300 would step up and defend our country too, risking all.

But I think they're afraid that those 300 don't exist. Most of the moviegoers don't number among them.

Some have asked me how I'd feel to get pregnant before my husband deploys. The thought makes me sick to my stomach. I want to raise a child with my husband or not at all. But I asked him while I was pregnant if it made him feel better or worse that he would leave a child behind should something happen to him. He said he did find comfort in thinking like the Spartans, that only men with progeny should be sent to battle. Thus I pray we get pregnant before he leaves again soon, so he has the peace of knowing that his legacy lives on.

And as hard as it is for me to think of my husband as dispensible, it will be all the harder to think of that child as dispensible too.

But the flag comes first.

(Thanks to Kim du Toit for the article and for writing "Not all of us are at the mall. We are with you as surely is if we’re going out on patrol with you, or standing next to you in the chow line back at camp.")

********

I sat on this one for a while, mulling it over. And in the meantime, I came across an article that Baldilocks' father wrote.

If you are so convinced that an ideal is vital for your society, then shouldn’t you make it your duty to live long enough to help your society to realise it? Once you are dead, of what use are you?
...
But, clearly, a soldier is much more important than a tool. That is why the law on self-preservation is even more significant to humans. Sure, a good soldier fights bravely in battle. But his bravery must include every stratagem that helps him to return to base unharmed.

Only then can he be available for another battle. Hence the saying: Live for your country: never deliberately die for it.

Trust me when I say that we also know this to be true. No one was more diligent about not dying needlessly than my husband was the last time he was in Iraq. (That's why he put two soldiers in jail when they failed to ensure the safety of the other men.)

My husband is the last man to promote swashbuckling or chest-thumping. But some must go to fight the Dragons, and those men must be ready to be dispensible.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:47 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 938 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Well said, and well done. I love being able to call you a friend, a Sister!

Posted by: awtm at February 06, 2008 04:46 PM (x5J2q)

2 I'm not sure that dispensible is the right term, although I agree with everything else you've written. Dispensible is something that you only use to throw away. Our servicemembers are not used to be thrown away (or at least, they're not supposed to be), but they are sacrificable. Dispensible means that the throwing away of the thing is a part of the course of events and not significant. A sacrifice is something that must be done, but hurts to do and is a huge deal. For those that are Christian, Jesus was not dispensible, he was a sacrifice. And I think that our guys are in that vein. Also - the 300 are remembered and exalted even now, thousands of years later. Someone dispensible, like a pizza box, would have been long forgotten. A real sacrifice (as opposed to one that has sprung out of the culture of victims that seems to run everything these days)is meaningful and purposeful. And necessary. And painful.

Posted by: airforcewife at February 07, 2008 01:38 AM (mIbWn)

3 I've been reading your blog for a very long time. This is the best you have ever written. Airforcewife has a point, but even though it is a sacrifice the military has to have dispensible people. No one wants to feel they can be replaced, but they can. Not their personality or their life, but the job can be done by others. Now this you may think is over the top; you are making the sacrifice also. You are not clinging or crying "please don't go, please let someone else do it." You are blessing and justifying his work. That is your sacrifice. Thanks to you both for that sacrifice you give for our country.

Posted by: Ruth H at February 07, 2008 03:11 AM (1mYk3)

4 Great stuff. It’s humbling to read and I’m so thankful for incredible people like yourself and your husband. I disagree with the semantic discussion. I think the word that would be INCORRECT would be “disposable”. But even then I understand Sarah’s intentions and overall point that she’s trying to convey.

Posted by: tim at February 07, 2008 07:36 AM (nno0f)

5 Thanks, Sarah, for linking to my father's op-ed. For those who don't know, my father is from Kenya. At present he is trying to escape his countrymen who have fallen to civil war. That article is an exhortation for them to stop murdering each other over BS.

Posted by: baldilocks at February 07, 2008 09:18 AM (RVK+T)

6 Ditto Tim's comment.

Posted by: Erin at February 07, 2008 11:18 AM (y67l2)

7 It IS harder when it is your child. But you still let them go. Widow of a LEO, Mother of Marine (just back from deployment and freshly engaged!!!)

Posted by: threadbndr at February 12, 2008 12:20 PM (VY665)

8 "I, , do solemnly affirm that I believe I am DISPENSIBLE in the name of this nation's security and interests. I also affirm that I will willingly follow the orders of the President of the United States, as the President is our lawfully elected leader, and the officers the President has appointed to lead me, as they are his lawful delegates. I do this of my own free will, without reservation or coersion, in the firm belief that the ideals and interests of my nation should come before the concerns of any single man or woman. So I do affirm."

Posted by: J. at February 12, 2008 03:52 PM (VFuhp)

9 Dammit Baldilocks! I'd much sooner have you for President than that other person whose Daddy is from Kenya. Or anybody else who's running for the office. Besides, you've already sworn The Oath and served honorably until retirement.

Posted by: Justthisguy at February 12, 2008 05:32 PM (WI6mr)

10 P.s. I speak as a Georgia cracker, all four of whose great-granddaddies served in the Confederate States Army. It's not that I object to Senator Obama on racial grounds, but on cultural grounds. I don't think that he "gets" American exceptionalism. The poor guy spent his youth in the Sandwich Islands, and in the East Indies. I don't think he imbibed much of traditional American culture by doing that. Also, he's an Illinois politician, which makes me suspect his intentions and question his motives. The bad vibes from Chicago radiate all through Illinois politics, as all informed people know.

Posted by: Justthisguy at February 12, 2008 08:32 PM (WI6mr)

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