Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fort Worth City Council with a Twist

Last night, for some unknown reason, I quit flipping between local news broadcasts and watched a bit of the local cable-access coverage of the Fort Worth City Council meeting.

I'd never seen one of those before.

I think what made me stop, and then keep watching, was a young officer (I believe he was a Captain) making a presentation to the Council. After a few minutes I realized he's a National Guardsman who lives here in Fort Worth.

The gist of what he was saying was, "Yes, we've served (apparently his unit had been to Iraq), but we're not through. We live here, we work here, and we SERVE here. And you're not doing a very good job using our service". He was FAR more polite than that, but he told the City Council they need to think of more ways to use the Guard Armory here in Fort Worth, because it's currently very underutilized.

The Captain (unfortunately, I didn't catch his name, and didn't get on the DVR button quick enough) was a good speaker, with a good prepared speech. He made the point that National Guardsmen sign up to serve, not just the country, but the community. He suggested several areas that the Council and the Armory could work together to better serve the community, but told the Council that it's really up to them. The Guard just wants to help, and wants the City to use them.

I thought it was a good speech, but I was surprised that several of the Councilmembers, as well as Mayor Mike Moncrief, were actually choked up when he finished. Choked up that after (apparently) serving in Iraq, this Guard unit came home, and said, "What do you want us to do next?"

I'm not sure if this was coincidence, or a subtle hint. I've been thinking seriously about the National Guard.

Specifically, enlisting.

The one, and only one, REAL regret that I have as an adult is that I never served in the armed forces, never stepped up to serve the country I love so much.

I'm getting close to being too old to do so.

Now I face the question: Do I go on as a civilian who never served, paying my taxes and contributing to the economy, and carry this regret with me forever?

Or do I subject my family to the hardships of military life (even if it's the reduced kind of hardships that a citizen-soldier incurs as opposed to active duty), just to salve my guilty conscience at letting someone else stand in my place defending America?

When I looked at the National Guard website, I had to dig a little bit. I was trying to make sure I'm not already too old, but everything prominent had to do with money. I was almost offended - I'm not thinking about this because of the money, but because of duty.

The conflict is from trying to balance duty to my country, which I should have done as a young man when I didn't have a family to care for, and duty to that exact family which I DO have to care for now. No, I don't HAVE to - I CHOOSE to, and that is one of the GOOD decisions I've made.

But the decision of whether or not to enlist... that's tougher. I WANT to. I DON'T want to leave Lisa alone in times of trouble. And whether or not I were to be deployed to Iraq, the Guard is called out in times of trouble, and I'd have to leave her. That's my biggest problem.

More thought on this topic is necessary. All comments are welcome (in fact, on this topic, PLEASE comment or email me - I'd like some input). I have until 1 May to make a decision one way or another.

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