A Call of Duty

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From an older brother's perspective, it is quite a humbling experience to see the true measure of a man in your little brother.

I remember playing "War" when I was a kid. We wanted to make it as real as it could be. Six or seven young boys in my rural, wooded neighborhood on the edge of Baton Rouge, Louisiana could not be any farther from reality, and in our minds, closer to bullets and bombs and all things battle. We wore camouflage and painted our faces with mud on the bayou banks, tucking palm fronds into our hats. We may have hauled around wooden rifles with rubber band launchers, but to us, it was more than entertainment: it was a call to duty.

It is fascinating how duty changes in a few decades.

At 23, my younger brother Seth married his college sweetheart - a girl with striking beauty and a stunning personality. The first day he brought Sarah to dinner, I remember my dad summarizing her in Southern colloquialism: "Ben," he said with a tone of impression, "your brother is walking in High Cotton."

Seth's duty was now clearly to his new bride. Everyone talked about this enchanting couple that certainly had a cosmic connection well before they ever met.

But shortly after their wedding, the newlyweds left Seth's solid and lucrative job working for the family business - not for a new job - just for a secondary one. After serving as a Crew Chief on Blackhawk helicopters in the Army National Guard, the flying bug had bitten Seth. He wanted to master the controls of the $12 million helicopters. He and Sarah headed east along the Gulf Coast for training at Fort Rucker, Alabama where they spent a year that saw the birth of their first child, Lily Ana.

Once again, duty's call came.

After flight school, Seth and Sarah headed home to Louisiana, back to the great job, the new house... the new life. Then there was a new child - little boy, Jack. The good times continued for their young family.

While it may not be that all good things come to an end, they surely can be put on pause. This Spring, Seth will leave his family for more than a year. He will hug his wife, now pregnant with their third child, kiss his two toddlers, and get on a plane headed for Iraq.

There he will likely fly missions carrying troops and equipment throughout the region. But in this war, the guns won't be wooden and there will be no rubber band bullets. As someone who shares a loyalty to his family and his country, Seth seems well aware and completely accepting.

From an older brother's perspective, it is quite a humbling experience to see the true measure of a man in your little brother. He has taught me that as life changes, so do our duties. Many times they are divided in different directions. It's how you accept those duties and deal with them that reveals the standard of your character. Seth has accepted every duty that he's ever been dealt... from the bayou banks to Bagdhad. I wish him well on this duty.

I went with my siblings and their families on a fishing trip for Seth's last weekend before deployment. We caught one fish!

The beard is something new... Maybe he thinks he's going into Special Ops.

Seth wrestling with Lily and Jack. My money is on Lily.