LTTE – To son joining the army

Published 9:53 am Wednesday, May 16, 2018

(Editor’s Note: A father wrote the following letter after his son took his oath and began his career in the army. He wrote a letter for his son to read when he arrived.)


I hope you know how much I love you. And how proud I am of you. You (and the army) have made a momentous decision, one that will have life-long consequences, and it’s hard for me to grasp that this thing you have longed to do for so many years is about to come to fruition in just a few hours from now. It is hard for any human to accurately reflect upon the gravity and nature of an important and life-altering decision in the midst of it, but years from now you will marvel at the courage and vision it took for you to embark on this course. And although your mom and I are obviously concerned for your long-term safety and health, we are encouraged that you have grown into such a fine young man. Your children will speak of you in hushed and reverent tones as they regale their friends with tales of your exploits at home and abroad, performing daring deeds for a grateful nation.

I barely had the courage to move to Boston to get my college degree, and could only have done it accompanied by your mother. So many things I would and could have done, that were foiled by fear. I am thankful that you did not inherit that life-sucking trait from me. On the contrary, you are a man of action. You may not think it now, but that is exactly who you are becoming. And that is a good thing. I was recently reminded of a quote from Teddy Roosevelt on action:

“It is not the critic who counts. … The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

And so, as you embark on this adventure, I, like Roosevelt, dare you to great and notable action. To strive to be, as you are now doing, in the arena, and not on the sidelines. Dare to be an Army Ranger. If you fail, you will have failed at least while trying. But to not try is worst of all, for you do not even have the honor of having tried and failed, but the ignominy of having failed to even try.

Last of all, as I said at your graduation, be, of all things persistent. Nothing can take its place, and is often the only thing between you and ultimate success. As another notable US president said:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated fools. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent.” –Calvin Coolidge

Remember what I have been telling you lately:

Keep your head down, your chin up, and your eyes on Jesus.

What do I mean by this phrase? It’s a code of guidance and a prayer of protection for you, my son.

Keep your head down… This is, above all, practical. If you keep your head down it will save you from getting it shot off. But it is also a charge for humility. Before God and man always have humility. Before God this is obvious as we are not above Him. But for your fellow man this is not a call to be a doormat, a slave, or a worm. It is simply the challenge to see yourself accurately. This will also help you to have sympathy for your friends and fellow soldiers.

Keep your chin up… As above, there is no need to be anyone’s worm, so always carry yourself with dignity as one of God’s precious creations. This, contrary to making yourself feel you are above others, will actually help you to honor and esteem others, since you will know that you yourself are loved by God.

Keep your eyes on Jesus… Believe me when I tell you that Jesus is truly the Lord of Last Resort. Many times, like me, you will find that whenever all hope is lost and no one is there for you, Jesus will always be there. He does not always answer us in ways we see fit, but he always does what is best for us, even if it hurts sometimes. “All things work together for good, for them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I could go on and on with advice and warm feelings, but let me end by saying that I love you and I am so, so proud of you. You will go far and do great things if you follow my instructions and stick close to God. Oh, and listen to your drill sergeant 😉

Keep your head down, your chin up, and your eyes on Jesus.

I Love you, buddy…