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Friday, December 06, 2002

Thursday night my wife and 2 children had dinner at a local restaurant. We were helping our daughter celebrate passing her multiplication test that day, when the waitress came by. In an offhand way, she said, "Boy, math was my hardest test when I joined the marines."
She was young, just out of high school. My first grader was the first to speak. "Boy, you don't look like a marine."
Before my wife could shush him for such an honest, though impolite response, our waitress smiled, and showed her adolescent braces as she did.

"Oh I'm not a marine yet. I leave for Paris Island next month to start basic training."

In between serving other customers, she told us she had decided she really wanted to join the marines instead of the army.
She said she would get a better deal on college.

"And besides" she whispered, as she leaned toward us conspiratorially, "I read on the internet they are going to start up the draft soon, and I wanted to make my own choices before we became a police state."

I wish I could say I made a solid defense of the constitution, and how far we are from the police states she read about.
Instead, I stammered something about us not being a police state, and that I was proud she was joining the marines.
I paid our bill, and my first grader snapped her a salute on the way out the door. She smiled, and saluted back.

I've thought about that young woman alot over the past 24 hours, and the lessons I hope she learns in The Corps.
One of those lessons is the absolute committment of The Corps, and indeed of our military as a whole, to the founding documents of this country. They are sworn to defend The Constitution and what it represents. This document, and The Declaration of Independence that came before it, is what keeps us from becoming the "Police State' she read about. I wish her well, and though I didn't get her name, she will be in my prayers as the war goes on.

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