The Cain Mutiny is a Pulitzer Prize winning WWII novel by Herman Wouk. It was adapted to the screen and became a hit and an all-time classic on leadership and the Navy (with Humphrey Bogart as the mentally unraveling Captain Queeg). At the heart of the movie is Ensign Willie Keith (a once spoiled mama's-boy en route to becoming a good man in the service of his country). And at the heart of Keith's character is a letter he receives from his father, who is about to die. It is a great letter addressing several of the themes that I consider important. Therefore - at the risk of infringing a handful of copyright laws - I here transcribe the entire thing. In is longish, but good. If you like it, do yourself a favor, go read the book, and rent the movie.
This (my second post) is one of them that may not clearly relate to being a dad. For what it is worth, here is my rationale...
In the movie We Were Soldiers Once (and young) LT.Col Hal Moore (aka Mel Gibson) is asked about his view on the “conflict” between being a good father and being a good soldier. He responds with “I hope being good at the one helps me be better at the other.”
As it happens, I agree with the Colonel. I reckon soldiering and fatherhood are both about leading young men and women through the fog, and the noise, and the danger (but at the same time, doing it right requires our grasping the critical fact that if we successfully shelter our young from the danger, we will have have missed the whole point).
Last year I spent 7 months in Iraq. I am creating this page as a repository for the meager “war-diary” kept. I wrote almost exclusively, only when shot at – which happened about twice a month. So there is not much to it.
I'll start this blogging thing with a long overdue (and still incomplete) project. My son is almost 2 years old now. I began writing this letter before he was born. My original goal was to have it ready for his perusal upon arrival. Which really was quite a silly goal. What use does a newborn have for a letter unless it be to wipe regurgitated breast-milk off his chin? My new goal is to finish it before he learns to read... and besides, I am now long overdue on a second project... A Letter to my Daughter. Some plagiarism may ensue.