By Eric Beasley
When I was 13, I had a small group of friends. We were just your typical late-90s teenagers, doing the typical things kids of our generation did. Our weekends were pretty straight forward, play basketball until the sun went down. Sometimes we’d have to play for the court, which is where I played enforcer and crap-talker. Big surprise, right? We’d play Goldeneye or WWF No Mercy on Nintendo 64 until the sun came back up. Every once in a while we branched out. One weekend we decided to do some, shall we say “pro-bono front yard redecorating,” on the homes of our friends in the neighborhood. An eternal catchphrase was born of this, a car was approaching while we were performing community service and my friends were yelling at me to get down. But to get down, I had to get over this short fence. I said “I got this!” as I went to clear the fence. With the slightest bit of pressure, the fence post snapped, with my face leading the way back to the ground. Instead of making the bush, I just laid there as the car drove past. One member of this small group has withstood the test of time.
Our lives took a turn for the worst a few years later. I was shipped out for my 2.5 year internment in Mexico, and his home fell apart. Our friendship never wavered. Once I came back, both of us now “men,” our first decision as men was to change our lives.
We both enlisted in the Army, just as the country realized the Iraq War was not going to be a swift policing action.
We were both fortunate enough to spend our early Army years within travel distance, he was at Fort Bragg while I was in Savannah.
As a 20 year old man, with an almost-estranged family and no kids, I did my year in Iraq.
He started a family and had kids. Both his boys are in grade school, and I have been honored with the designation of “Uncle Eric.” This honorary term, designating me as family has been reciprocated for my own kids. This man is my brother, his family is my family, and nothing can ever change that.
Just looking at us, this friendship wouldn’t make much sense to you. He’s Chicano from a broken home, I’m from an upper-middle class suburban family. He doesn’t speak Spanish, so at his family gatherings I have to translate for him when chatting with the older generations of his family. He listens to rap and hip-hop, I listen to metal. He is a terrible driver, I could be Speed Racer.
He chose years ago to make a career out of the Army, going to ROTC and breaking the curse every son bears. He will not make the same mistakes his own father made. Now today, as a Captain in the Army, my best friend received his next set of orders.
He is going to Iraq, to fight a war that I already won.
The soldier in me knows that he is capable and proficient.
The soldier in me knows that he will do his time and come home safely.
The brother in me is not so logical.
The brother in me wants to be there to watch his back.
When is this madness going to end?
In 20 years, will I be writing a piece entitled “My son is fighting a war that I already won?”
In 40 years, will I be writing a piece entitled “My grandson is fighting a war that I already won?”
How much more blood and sweat will be demanded of our young men and women before our political ruling class stops our interventionist foreign policy?