In some circles, Sam’s decision might have seemed practical, even heroic. But in our liberal, antiwar sphere, his desire to enlist was met with shock — even hostility. I wasn’t really surprised at our friends’ reactions — after all, Sam’s dad and I were initially opposed. We talked to him over and over about the risks he would face, the unyielding obedience he would need to summon. We spent the last year trying to inject some reality into his somewhat idealized vision of the military, but true to form, his mind would not be changed…

It wasn’t until I started chatting online with a childhood friend just a week before Sam’s ship date that I started to make peace with my son’s decision to face war. My friend’s 20-year-old son recently decided to emigrate to Israel, where he will be required to serve in the Israeli army. “College is a joke if you’re not into it,” my friend wrote. “Just an expensive waystation for bored kids.”…

I closed the little message box on the computer feeling a little less guilty that I should have done more to stop Sam, and maybe even a little proud of my son for being willing to try something that is completely foreign to us privileged Angelenos.