Comfort Circle

Yesterday, on an outing simply to get the kids away from the house for a short time, I ran into an old friend. "Donnie" has been a correctional officer for 17 years. Despite the presence of my son's soccer coach who was having a funny conversation with my wife, Donnie and I ignored their talk (Donnie knew them as well) and immediately began catching-up.

Police officers are typically comfortable talking primarily with other officers and those in similar professions (e.g. correctional officers). I think of these relationships as those within a comfort circle. Go to a cookout with officers and other folks, and you will likely see the officers and those they relate with, standing off to the side in private conversations. Donnie and I discussed his senority, shift work, dealing with law-breakers, etc. Despite no longer being an officer, I am comfortable in Donnie's world.

Military men and women have the same sort of social preferences as illustrated by the common site of crowded Legion and VFW halls in American communities. Seeking persons that we can identify with is important. In the book “These Good Men: Friendships Forged from War,”: Mike Norman tells his story as a Vietnam veteran and Marine who went on a quest to reconnect with 11 members of his former platoon that had survived an ambush in 1968. Norman describes the lasting bonds forged among soldiers who have experienced armed conflict:

I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite. Not to tell stories or look at old pictures. Not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted their who suffered and sacrificed.....who were stripped raw......right down to their humanity. I did not pick these men. They were delivered by fate and the military. But I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life. They would have carried my reputation.....the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made.....the reason we were so willing to die for one another.

I have always held in high regard those who have served. For some reason, Sundays seem to reinforce this feeling. Perhaps it is a combination of my father being a career Marine (honor God and country) and one poignant scene from the old Jimmy Stewart movie ”Shenandoah.” I am referring to the part where Stewart and what is left of his Virginia family (ironic in that he and his large family had tried to stay neutral during the Civil War, but were drawn into the violence), are singing in church. During the hymn (“Rock of Ages”), his youngest son who had been mistakenly identified as a soldier, captured, and then escaped, limps in through the back of the church. He then walks to his father where emotions take over, and everyone finishes the song.

Today, I'll pray for those people in my comfort circle, and God Bless those who protect our freedoms.