Serving God and Country

May 23, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

Emily Borrow’s article took us through his troubled boozy years as a college student, to joining the Army and working with a Muslim soldier who introduced him to Islam. From that time, he learned as much as he could, converted, taking the same last name, Shabazz, like Malcolm X. Two near death experiences, four master’s degrees and two doctorates later, he is at ease being there for any soldier anywhere and anytime. What a balanced write up!

Had a good laugh reading the interview with Liam Neeson in AARP, The Magazine, (April/May) by Allison Glock. Neeson asked her if she knew the joke about Irish Alzheimer’s? And she nailed, it, “You forget everything but the grudges.” You could substitute any culture or group and come up with the same answer.

That punchline left me with a smile on my face, but my adventures digging into family lore on today did not. It is with horror that I read about the barbaric family feuds that led to my ancestors leading the Exodus of the Earls from Ireland to France in the early1600s. Good grief, they sure knew how to kill each other and their enemies. What a mess.

The horrors done by members of the same family on their own and on their enemies was a perfect segue into the article, “Molding a Moral Soldier” by Mary Beth McCauley in The Christian Scientist Monitor Weekly (May 30). It was not a story I expected to read about, and yet recent wartime atrocities raise many questions about behavior in combat.

The article addressed the difference between what was legally right and morally right. After Major Jared Vineyard survived a car bombing in Baghdad in 2003 and had a profound crisis of faith, he went on to get a master of divinity and serve as a youth pastor before returning to the Army Reserves. An unexpected encounter with a soldier who had survived a similar explosion led to his serving on the front lines in Afghanistan. Vineyard’s ability to listen well, led one soldier to describe him as “the best counselor that I can imagine.” As for the question of whether it was okay to kill a prisoner out of revenge? Never.

What would my family tree be like if my ancestors had someone who knew how to listen well? We wouldn’t have history written by the winners, and the losers holding grudges for centuries.

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