Skip to comments.What's a peacenik to do when son joins Army?
Posted on 12/24/2004 8:22:32 AM PST by Chi-townChief
Let's say you're a big peacenik. Card-carrying. World class. You marched in anti-war protests and sat in sit-ins when you were a college student during the Vietnam War. Maybe you even got tear-gassed while holding hands with Mary from Peter, Paul and Mary during a particularly nasty protest in front of the Conrad Hilton back in '68.
You've been arrested dozens of times for civil disobedience, continue to march, or sit, or picket, or shout on behalf of peace, and are one of the loudest voices in Chicago against President Bush and what you consider to be his immoral war in Iraq.
Now, let's say you have a son.
And he decides to join the Army.
What do you do?
That's what the Rev. Michael Pfleger, the activist pastor of Chicago's St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church and die-hard peacenik in question, asked himself when his eldest son, 30-year-old Lamar Michael Pfleger, called home in late August to say he'd enlisted.
"When he first told me that this was something he had made a decision to do, I was shocked, I have to admit that," Mike Pfleger told me this month as the three of us -- Mike in his black-on-black priestly garb and worried expression, Lamar in his new Army fatigues with the word PFLEGER printed in black, capital letters over his right chest -- chatted at the St. Sabina's parsonage, where Lamar grew up after Pfleger adopted him 21 years ago.
"He basically told me after he'd enlisted," the elder Pfleger said. "He knew where I stood, but he'd made up his mind."
In truth, Mike Pfleger was heartsick.
As an activist priest who insists we're fighting an unjust, preemptive war based on lies, yes. But more so, as, simply, a dad.
"I told him, I cannot feel good about it because he's my son, and I love him and I care about him," the normally bombastic priest said quietly. "My prayer for him and for Beronti, my other son, every day is for their safety and that they can achieve their goals. And that's my prayer for him, that he will achieve whatever dreams and goals God has for him. And I support him 100 percent in his decision. It's not my decision. And it shouldn't be. It should be his."
Lamar Pfleger is strapping, soft-spoken and African American, the opposite in many ways of his father, the blond, blue-eyed firebrand. But they share a stubborn streak, as well as a sense of spiritual mission.
A few years ago, Lamar was working for an airline in a job he loved. But then 9/11 happened and everything changed. The airlines suffered and jobs were cut. He survived the first round of layoffs, but not the second. A few years later, he found himself working as the assistant manager of a video store, depressed and unfulfilled. In prayer he felt God leading him to join the military, he told me.
"I knew I could be doing a lot more besides what I was doing. That's pretty much why I decided to go in," he said. "I'd rather go over there and stop them before they come over here and start doing it. And that's my point. . . . If I can prevent that from happening, I'll sleep better at night, too."
This from a kid who wasn't allowed to play with toy guns as a child. "Not even squirt guns," his father said, proudly. "I got a cowboy gun once for my birthday, and he told me I had to take it back," Lamar recalled. "From then on, I should have known what kind of protest I was in for."
A few days earlier, I had called the elder Pfleger to wish him a Merry Christmas. "And how are your boys?" I asked. (In addition to Lamar, Pfleger has a younger son, 25-year-old Beronti, whom he adopted 13 years ago.)
All I heard on the other end of the line was a heavy sigh. I prodded and Mike told me how he'd just returned from Lamar's graduation from basic training in Georgia and how he'd cried through the whole thing. Happily, Mike said, Lamar -- "thank you, Jesus" -- had been assigned to a base in Seattle for at least a year.
When the three of us got together, I asked Lamar about his assignment in a combat striker unit of the 2nd Infantry at Fort Lewis in Seattle.
I kind of wish I hadn't.
The son took a deep breath, eyes darting to the ceiling, nostrils flaring nervously, and looked at his father.
"I've been assigned to Fort Lewis where I'll be taking classes and just staying in physical shape and probably be on standby until I'm possibly deployed. There's a good chance . . ." Lamar said, pausing uncomfortably, and turning toward his father. "I didn't want to tell my dad that, but there's a good chance I might be [deployed to Iraq]."
The father blanched visibly, but remained silent and tried to smile.
This must be killing him, I thought.
"Coming home, you know, missing a limb, that scares me more than anything," Lamar continued. "I would like to go by the phrase, 'Take all of me or take none of me.' . . . I'll be praying for myself, 'God, please forgive me for whatever I have to do.' But in the long run, it's something I have to do," he said.
'Death . . . anywhere'
Mike Pfleger is praying that his son won't be sent to Iraq.
"If he does, I'll continue to pray for his safety, no matter where he is," the priest said. "You don't have to be in Iraq to get maimed or killed. It can happen on a street. My youngest son, Jarvis, died here, three blocks away from here. So I know that harm or danger or death can come anywhere."
(Pfleger's foster son Jarvis was killed in gang crossfire seven years ago at the age of 17.)
"I just don't want my dad to worry," Lamar said.
"Not much hope of that, but he's gonna be all right because prayer is powerful," Mike Pfleger said, reaching out and touching his son's shoulder. "You're gonna be all right."
U.S. Army Pvt. Lamar Pfleger reports for duty Jan. 16.
And our prayers go with him.
Thank the good Lord for Lamar's courageous decision to defend all of us and pray for his safety and success.
ROFLMHO! Since Pfleger's not supposed to have kids anyway, I find this deliciously ironic. :-)
Cut the cord, pop. Your son is more grown up than you are.
Best wishes to the young man, and may God keep him safe.
I sympathize with his father, even though I disagree with him ... it's very hard for any parent to have a child reject your strongly-held convictions.
You do what every parent should do. Love and support your children, and uphold their dignity.
I don't believe him.
I'm glad his father is supporting his decision - but may if his son does go to Iraq he will get a different perspective about what is really going on over there than what the liberal talking points are telling him how to think each day.
Say what you will about Fr. Mike's politics, but he must have been a good parent.
"ROFLMHO! Since Pfleger's not supposed to have kids anyway, I find this deliciously ironic. :-)"
Yeah, no kidding! I, too, wonder how a catholic priest has kids!?!
Is that true? I know it's a Roman Catholic church, but it describes him as a pastor, not a priest. I am not a Catholic, so I don't know what a pastor is in the context of Roman Catholicism or whether pastors have to take a vow of celibacy.
Obviously the son grew up and felt in his heart that daddy was wrong-headed!! He decided not to be like him.
He adopted him, even though priests are forbidden to adopt. Our former cardinal was useless and so didn't bother to try and stop him.
Sounds like he adopted. Is that forbidden?
Suicide is the only option.
1. Suck it up.
2. Be very proud that you have raised a son to be a better man than you are. That is all any of us can hope to do.
Moral of the story for ultra lib parents: When the kids ask for water pistols, buy them two + a water canon ;-D
Rev. Dr. Michael L. Pfleger
Catholic Ping - please freepmail me if you want on/off this list
A pastor is a priest who pastors the flock at that particular parish. IOW, he's in charge.
It's all about the peacenik and how he feels.
How typical, tired, and dull.
In my experience, these are the folks who turn out to be damn fine marksmen.
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