The prospect of war

My youngest son is near Iraq.

MG John S. Grinalds
U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
President, The Citadel

Like thousands of others in military service, he has accepted the demands that go with serving one's country when a war is looming. Norwood and I eagerly wait for news from him as does his fiancee. Because he is assigned to a Marine unit that gives him access to computers, he has been able to communicate with us by email -- a convenience that is new with this conflict. As one who waited weeks for news from home while serving in Vietnam, I find the posts from my son a truly remarkable development of modern deployment.

This issue of Pass in Review contains an email from a past regimental commander, Bryant Butler, who shared his reflections while he was on board the USS Ashland, heading toward the Persian Gulf. He was asked to write something about his Citadel experiences that we could report as he prepares for the challenges that he will surely face in the coming months. He had no guidelines or suggestions. Yet it is hardly surprising that he spoke of preparation and duty --two essential lessons The Citadel teaches.

Captain Butler and many of his Citadel classmates who have headed for the Persian Gulf are out of email range now, but they are certainly in our hearts as they follow the directives of our commander in chief and, if war is necessary, remove the threat posed by a dangerous and malevolent dictator.

Deployments require sacrifice and involve Americans of all ages and stages in their lives. Families remaining at home -- the spouses, children and parents -- must carry on in the absence of their loved ones, dealing with the mixture of pride and dread that comes in knowing someone you care deeply for could be put in harm's way.

Our enlisted men and women are supported by a host of military reservists including several Citadel faculty, staff, College of Graduate and Professional Studies students and at least five cadets. One cadet reservist, a freshman, has been called upon twice to disrupt his life and fulfill his military obligations. Three months after he entered in the fall of 2001, he was deployed with his National Guard unit. He returned to us in January to resume his knob year only to be called up a second time three weeks into this semester. Now he has gone to another unnamed location.

The obligations of service extend to all levels. Even the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, has decided to follow the commitment he made when he joined the Air Force Reserves last year and will be vacating his office for two weeks of training required in Alabama later this month.

The sacrifices of these men and women should not be taken for granted. Our freedom and our way of life depend on the willingness of people to respond to their country's need. The Citadel teaches that leadership means service to others and principled leadership means rendering that service according to a standard of ethics and honor.

The Citadel, along with its alumni and its extended family, should be leaders in supporting our men and women in the military. We should take special pride in those who are answering our country's call for they are exemplifying The Citadel's heritage, its character and its destiny.