When a sibling joins the military, adopt the flag. Accept it all blindly, a patriot at heart unwilling not to support the mission. Ignore your doubts.
Slap him on his back, the child you sang bedtime songs to, now a soldier fighting for your country. Do this even when you despise the politics that drove your country into war under false pretenses. Do this even when he demonstrates no understanding of the current conflict or the region whose language he intends to learn.
Wear the ribbon. Believe the rhetoric.
Because, if you cannot support your brother–who in the anonymity of the Army is now your country–who can you support?
When you go to his swearing-in ceremony, keep your mouth shut when the recruitment officer who signed away six years of your brother’s life informs him he must attend church every Sunday during boot camp to avoid punishment. Hold it tightly closed when he tells him that foregoing the service would mean his commanding officer would not receive the two hours off and would find chores punishing enough that he will be so eager to worship a god that he never misses a service again.
Stifle the part of you that asks if there is more than one service. If there are choices for the soldiers who’ve signed up — many of them video game addicts who associate war with pixels that regenerate in a different spot after each kill so they get another chance to come out on top.
Do not ask if they can choose between an evangelical Christian sermon (like the ones your parents drilled into you) or a Jewish Sabbath the night before or an Islamic service. Or even a non-punishment producing Atheist option.
Silence yourself in the name of duty because suggesting that coerced religion in the armed services is tantamount to forced religion in the country will call into question your brother’s honor. Your country may disown you. Your parents will disdain you, even as the sibling who traveled across country for the ceremony. Continue Reading…