LAW OFFICE MONAST
www.monastlaw.com | 614-334-4649 | 5000 Arlington Centre Blvd. Bldg 2, Suite 2117, Upper Arlington, OH 43220-2913
DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY REFLECTING ON MY FAMILY’S LONG MILITARY HISTORY As the Fourth of July rolls around and everybody breaks out the hot dogs and mild explosives, I always think of the many members of my family who have served in the armed forces. I think, as a non-military man myself, it’s difficult to grasp the sacrifice they and the millions of other men and women who fight overseas make for our great country. Perhaps that makes it all the more important for us to try to understand— to be grateful that we have these amazing people willing to put their lives on the line for us.
My family’s history of military service began with my grandfather, who served in the Army duringWorldWar I. From his post in the trenches, he nearly died in a cloud of mustard gas and was laid up in the hospital for weeks. Throughout his experience of the Great War, he kept a pencil diary, a memento that has stayed in the family for decades, long after it became faded and nearly impossible to read. His son, my own father, Joe, enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday: June 1, 1944. He became a nurse in the medical corps, and for a time was training to join the Navy SEALs beforeWWII ended and his training programwas discontinued. Meanwhile, my wife Amy’s dad was in an Army tank battalion in Germany and lost some of his hearing in the immense noise of the conflict. And then there was my older brother Allen, who signed up to become a Hollywood Marine (meaning he went to boot camp in San Diego) the year I was born. And obviously, I can’t forget my own son Garrett, who’s making us proud as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps reserves while studying for his engineering degree at The Ohio State University. He’s a tough, intelligent, fit, and driven kid, and there’s no one I know who’s better with a Swiffer around the house (the things you learn in basic training!). Coming from a family of such men of duty, I always felt the urge to enlist, but never actually joined the military— though I got close. One day, fresh out of law school, I headed to the Marine Corps recruiting office to speak with the recruiter there. To say the guy was intense would be the understatement of the century. He was an adrenaline junkie to a T, eager to show off his right hand, which had somehow become mangled while he had been in boot camp. He regaled me with terrifying tales of bullets whizzing above his head and the“thrill”of the battlefield, and I felt he was maybe more than a little cracked.
The whole encounter put me off, and I chickened out. Frankly, it was one of the biggest regrets of my life.
Later in life, I went through tests to join the FBI. My law degree set me up well for the position, and in the tests I proved to be a decent shot, but when it came to actually committing, I had second thoughts. They were doing a lot of white collar crime investigation and talked of stationing me down in Miami in their fight against the local drug lords. That was fine, except that I’d recently seen“Scarface,”and I couldn’t help but imagine myself in that scene, tied up in the shower, experiencing firsthand some “creative”uses for a chainsaw. Plus, as a law school professor used to tell us, the problem in confronting drug dealers is they always“have concrete ways of dealing with you.”I didn’t want themmaking cement shoes in my size… To this day, I regret never making that leap to serve my country, but I’m proud to be among my son Garrett and all the others in my family who made it a huge part of their lives. Though it’s impossible for any of us civilians to adequately express our gratitude for the honorable men and women in the armed forces, I’ll do my best this Independence Day. –Jim Monast
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