"I went to an appointment at Bethesda yesterday for diabetes care. It really put my problems in perspective when I saw at least six different people who were missing one or both legs or arms. One guy was actually missing both his legs and one of his arms. He rolled his wheelchair around with one good arm and a prosthetic. These people all served their country with pride, and all continued to do so as they were each in a uniform or shirt representing their respective branch of the military. I actually found myself standing at attention when they passed to do what little I could to show them the respect that they have earned from their own sacrifice." (WO2 Matthew David Lewis, United States Army, retired).
It has been relayed to me that one of our five children once said, "Everyone knows Matt is daddy's favorite; but nobody minds, because Matt is everyone's favorite."
I'm not sure it is entirely true that he's my favorite, although Matthew did once teach me which of our five children is my favorite -- it is whichever I am with at the moment. It is more likely that he is the child I worried about the most. He is the least like me intellectually (that unfortunate distinction goes to Susan), for Matthew has a much greater intellect than I. Rather, I worried mostly because I saw him as the most like me emotionally. Fortunately, his intellect has largely enabled him to overcome this hindrance of heredity and environment.
He prefers to be called Matt, but I always think of him as Matthew -- it is a respect the man deserves. When he was just five I began telling him he is the very best Matthew in the whole world -- he is. Lest he ever forget, I always tell him how proud I am of him (of course I never let on that this is true of all our children, and I've never failed an opportunity to tell them also.)
I was extra proud when he joined the Army; now he had a direction. It might not be a life direction, time would tell, but he was going somewhere.
As always with Matthew he rose quickly wherever men saw his ability, and was recruited into the Warrant Officer program.
He has served with honor about 12 years, working on something-or-another involving satellite communications. I have no idea what he does, but apparently if I'm hit in the head by a falling satellite I can blame Matthew. I also know communications is the linchpin, which determines any army's endgame.
Largely because of his assignments in the Army he has never been deployed to a war zone. My observation has been that this has made him reticent when strangers thank him for his service. I've told him more than once it's not about any one individual, that if our generation learned anything from Vietnam it was to appreciate all those who serve our community by serving our country. He's learned to simply reply on behalf of all who serve, "You're welcome."
Last week Matthew ended active duty with the United States Army. He can do so with pride and honor. It may be a bit of an oxymoron, but there is no "me" in Army. Military success comes with all doing their duty. It is ever true: "The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike." (I Samuel 30:24). Or, as the long-ago poet Milton put it, "They also serve who only stand and wait."
Unsung and little noticed, my "favorite" son now enters into what may well prove the final battles, cyberspace wars. I will not be surprised if once again men see him as a man among men, and that he easily rises to lead. And, I will not be surprised if I am even more proud of him as he continues to fight Matthew's war.