A short while ago, life got very real for one of my ROTC friends who is serving in the Army - he was in a firefight and some of the men on his patrol were killed. I don't want to delve into the details and circumstances of the engagement on the internet for more than one reason.
Suffice it to say, this makes things very real for me and most of the people I've had the honor of knowing in our commissioning program, who also know this person.
Life seems to be composed of phases; we seemingly enter the next phase without realizing it and are surprised to find out that we have arrived there when reality throws a cold glass of water in our face. The gravity of being a missionary, a college student, married, a parent, a soldier... suddenly takes effect when you are walking the dirty streets of Colombia, or trying to sleep while a little boy who had a nightmare fights you for your pillow all night.
Hearing about my friend in combat was another epiphany - entering the Army will bring an end to the days of running around in the snow up Logan/Green canyon yelling "Bang Bang!" or shooting paint balls while we practiced combat drills. It will usher in an era of real bullets on a two way shooting range, with the lives of American soldiers placed in my care.
I am genuinely concerned for all my friends who are in harms way or training to be placed in harms way. They are all incredible soldiers, husbands, fathers, and friends. To me, many of them are brothers.
To them I say, keep your head down, stay alert, put the hurt on the enemy, and come home in one piece.