I confess, my family has a dearth of military experience. In my paternal line, they have not fought in a war since they left Scotland -- even though they had a tradition of posting armed sentries at their chapel doors in order to protect their underground ministers. They were given land in upstate New York to buffer the northern colonies from the French Papists. They were neighbors of Jane McCrea who was slain by the Native American allies of the British under Burgoyne, which shifted them from being loyalists to neutrals. Prior to that one, as a magistrate, had attempted to have Ethan Allen arrested as a "ruffian", but could not find a constable brave enough to serve the Writ.
As a group which found the Constitution to be blasphemous because it did not recognize Christ as the head of the nation and condoned slavery, they simultaneously helped stir up the Civil War -- but then were unable to fight in it because of the military oath to protect the Constitution. So my ancestors missed out on the Revolution and all of the wars between it and the Civil War. My Grandfather was too young for Spanish American War and too old for WWI and WWII. My father tried to enlist during WWII, but failed his physical. Meanwhile my generation was too young for Korea, and either age or health prevented us from serving during Viet Nam.
So we had no military tradition in our family. Two of my sons seriously considered the military -- one trying to get into one of the military academies winning a variety of military scholarships which he eventually declined. Another would probably be in Iraq right now had they not flunked him on his physical for a pin in his elbow.
As a result I did not know exactly how to react when my foster son decided to enlist even though he had full-ride scholarships. It has been a new experience for our family. He is almost at the end of his basic training and graduates at the end of the month -- he called us today. He just got out of intensive care because he did not want to fail to finish certain requirements and completed them while sick from pneumonia. He is not sure where they will be shipping him to finish his training as a map maker, but somehow he got himself signed up with the airborne.
Our family is entering new territory here. While happy he is doing something he appears to like, we are nevertheless worried about his chosen career. I guess suspicion of the military runs deep, the concern that a kid will keep all his promises, but the Army might not keep its. Not sure how an organization can get such a reputation for failing to keep its recruitment promises and still be an effective organization. But perhaps the reputation is underserved -- that is the hope we cling to as we pass this Thanksgiving with a member in boot camp.