Patterico's Pontifications

1/31/2010

Another Kind of Love Story

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 5:46 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Boston Globe recounts how three Harvard Law friends sacrificed everything for their country:

“They were three best friends at Harvard Law School who turned their backs on lucrative careers to follow an exceedingly rare path: Michael Weston, who jogged through Harvard Yard in combat boots and openly scorned corporate life, joined the Marines. Helge Boes and his girlfriend Cynthia Tidler, who shared their friend’s sense of duty and adventure, joined the CIA.

Their choices – made out of passion, patriotism, and an urge to live an unconventional life – intertwined their fates.

Boes, a covert CIA operative, died when a grenade went off during training in Afghanistan in 2003, leaving Tidler, whom he had married after school, a widow. In their grief, Weston and Tidler reconnected and married earlier last year. Three months later, Weston deployed to Afghanistan; he died there in October, in a helicopter crash, widowing Tidler once again.”

It’s an article you need to read but this section in particular made me think twice:

“Weston’s decision seemed all the more strange to some of his peers because he wanted to join as an enlisted “grunt,’’ not a military lawyer. That summer, when most of his classmates worked high-paid summer jobs, he went to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.

“People thought it was bizarre. Quirky. Maybe crazy,’’ said Orin Kerr, a former classmate who is now a professor at George Washington University Law School. “Everybody at Harvard was trying to fit in, and Mike was going out of his way to stick out.’”

Hats off to these young people who didn’t want to fit in, and bless them and the country they sacrificed for.

H/T Dana.

— DRJ

15 Responses to “Another Kind of Love Story”

  1. This is so tragic…widowed twice, to two exemplary men!

    When I first started to read this, I thought it was a spoof, since “Michael Weston” is the main character’s name in the USA action-soaper “Burn Notice”.

    AD - RtR/OS! (951da8)

  2. Unbelievably sad – we can never do enough for those who choose to serve.

    Dmac (539341)

  3. Harvard isn’t the only school to produce 4-year degree holding grunts who gave their life for their country.

    http://www.usctrojans.com/sports/m-swim/spec-rel/103107aaa.html

    SoCal Patterico Fan (f10530)

  4. Along with this being an amazing story of love and heartbreaking loss, it was also a wonderful look at young people who figured out early in life what they wanted to do with their lives, and then let nothing stand in the way of reaching their goal. There are an awful lot of adults who still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, it makes it that much more of a profound story that they did.

    From the link (below), you could easily replace “legal profession” with any other profession and the point would still penetrate.

    “In the legal profession, you ask people, ‘Are you happy with your job?’ and they say, ‘It keeps from having to think about what I really want to do,’ ’’ said Keith Sigale, a tax specialist at Golberg Kohn in Chicago. “This is clearly what Mike wanted to do.’’

    What a gift of time both these young men were given to do what they really wanted to in this life. And that it was to serve their country makes it so much more meaningful.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  5. SoCal Patterico fan,

    Thank you for the link about SSGT Joe Curreri. He was a hero and a fine young man.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  6. Wow! Thanks for that.

    Chris (0f49a9)

  7. It’s a heart-wrenching story, but I take great exception to something the author writes in the first few paragraphs:

    Indeed, their friends said, the close relationship of the three, their commitment to confront America’s enemies, and the tragic arc of their lives underscore how rare it is for people with privileged educations to volunteer to fight America’s wars.

    I don’t know if that is really true. After all, Memorial Church in Harvard Square is named for all the Harvard alumni who gave their lives in the First World War. Go to any of the “prestige” schools and you are bound to find a memorial to war dead from all of America’s military engagements dating back to when that college was founded. The claim that students with “privileged educations” is a shopworn talking point circulated by the anti-war left, but I don’t think it really holds up from a historical context.

    If there is a case to be made that our nation’s recent engagements feature a military that is underrepresented by Ivy League graduates, then perhaps we should look towards the shifting attitude of the Ivies towards the U.S. military (exhibit one: ROTC bans at Harvard and Yale) as the main culprit, not the lack of desire of Ivy Leaguers to serve their country.

    JVW (48cbba)

  8. Accidentally swallowed some words in my missive above. The sentence should read, “The claim that students with ‘privileged educations’ purposely avoid military service is a shopworn talking point. . . .”

    JVW (48cbba)

  9. Thanks for blogging about this, DRJ.

    Orin Kerr (4f2df7)

  10. Harvard’s military ban is ostensibly due to DADT, but it’s really the enmity the faculty — which is its own country, and contemptuous of those who would honor any country before it — has for the military that drives it.

    Harvard and the other Ivies were well represented in the war dead of all wars, until Vietnam; entire classes enlisted in the world wars (there’s an excellent book on the Yalies who essentially founded Naval Aviation, The Millionaires’ Unit). Since the 1960s, those graduates who elect some kind of national, rather than self-, service are seen by their classmates, who know them, with the sort of awe the classmates express in the article; and by the professoriate as despicable chumps.

    Drew Faust tries to speak out of both sides of her mouth about the services, depending on who’s listening.

    I never met the folks the article is about (and I disclaim any personal ties to Harvard). A fine acquaintance of mine, a military doctor, made a superhuman effort to save the life of Helge Boes, but was unsuccessful. Without going into detail, I can say categorically that everything that could be done was done, and some things that were medically impossible were still attempted. He did not die alone and he did not die without the very best effort from the best qualified individual for 5000 miles in any direction.

    And had the situation been reversed, he’d have done all that was within his power… that’s part of the deal, and that’s why people sign up for this kind of thing. Or as the guy told Lara Logan on 60 minutes tonight, “It’s a calling.” Not for everybody, and the people who do it depend on you to find your calling too — whatever it is. We can project military power, field an intelligence service that sometimes has capabilities bordering on magical, only because they are the tip of a spear backed by the efforts of millions of excellent engineers, scientists, ordinary workers and support people of all kinds.

    Well, the lawyers mostly hold the spear back, but sometimes we even need them.

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (c3c45a)

  11. Comment by JVW — 1/31/2010 @ 8:18 pm

    That it was expected that the “best & brightest” would serve, and lead, only became “non-operational” with the advent of the “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” generation in the 60’s.
    These three, in an earlier generation would have been the rule, but here they are the exception.

    AD - RtR/OS! (951da8)

  12. Harvard’s military ban is ostensibly due to DADT, but it’s really the enmity the faculty. . . .

    Absolutely. The ROTC ban was originally in response to the Vietnam War. The gays in the military issue was brought front and center only after the Harvard faculty realized that the Vietnam War was over and that they needed a new reason to oppose the U.S. military. If “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed tomorrow, Harvard would no doubt still find a reason to keep ROTC off campus.

    JVW (48cbba)

  13. I heartbreaking story. I lost my breath reading it.

    Now for my smartass comment:

    I wonder…..

    … if Bin Laden will call off the war in Afganistan because it appears that the USA is USING IT AS A RECRUITING TOOL?

    eharmonica (d69f96)

  14. Wow, to be widowed twice. So sad.

    JEA (dffa7e)

  15. I confess, without shame, I am sick and tired of fighting—its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers … tis only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated … that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.

    –William Tecumseh Sherman–

    nk (db4a41)


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