Wednesday, May 03, 2006



Where to begin?

How about mentioning that I just spent the past 20 minutes on my knees in prayer.

Now…let me make sure you guys understand something about me. I am deeply religious, and deeply faithful. I am a Christian. I have no problem sharing that detail of my life with those around me. I will NOT, however, shove it down anyone’s throat. I always admired that about Sheperd Book…surrounded by ‘heathens a-plenty, right here’, but was never more than a gentle nudge in the heavenly direction. Like Book, I share my faith when asked, and try not to make people uncomfortable with it otherwise. That’s the quickest way for them to shut down.

I digress.

I spent the past 20 minutes on my knees in earnest prayer because of an unexpected visitor today. A kid named Brandon.

Brandon had been assigned to me when I used to run a Boot Camp for Juvenile Offenders here in North Carolina. Brandon was actually a pretty good kid who just needed direction and discipline. After graduating from my program, he went on to complete High School and joined the Army.

He just came by today to tell me he’s going to Iraq.

Just typing those words cause my throat to close…my vision blurs…

I felt myself ‘shut down’ parts of my brain, most of my emotions… I immediately shifted from grinning at a young man who’d become a friend, back to the stern, ‘business is business’ Drill Instructor he had known for 10 weeks. I think he saw what I was doing, trying so hard to stay strong in front of him so his own confidence and resolve would not waver. I shook his hand and told him to be careful, and that I fully expected him to return here to speak to my current cadets about his experiences there.

Then I came into my office, shut and locked the door and quietly fell apart.

His name is Brandon. He’s in the 3rd Infantry Division, and he’s going to Iraq. He has a wife and a young daughter.

As wrong as it is for me to ask you to make any one soldier overseas ‘special’, God, pay special attention to this one, please.

ANYONE who would like to contact me via email or telephone to share a brief prayer with me, please do so. You are all welcome.