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During his final tour of duty, he experienced loss of the worst kind. His goal was to bring every one of his men home alive; he even made that promise to many of their wives. It was a vow he could not keep. Still, he never questioned the rightness of a single mission. For Charles, the war was not about "weapons of mass destruction" or an "axis of evil"; I never heard him speak those words. It was about leading the soldiers he had trained by example, about honor and dignity, and about protecting a country he loved from enemies real or imagined.

I am proud of your dad's honor and dignity—even of the way he died. Son, all of us will leave this world, but so few die a hero's
death.

Still, the would-be wife and new mother in me are angry at times that he left us so early, at the age of forty-eight. Was it heroic or foolish that he volunteered for the mission that killed him?

As the daughter of an army veteran, I grew up on or near military bases and after I left for college wanted no more of that life. So for years I resisted getting deeply involved with your father, and much of our long-distance romance involved him chasing me and me pushing him away. We dated other people at times, me out of a fear of committing to your father, him out of frustration with my dithering. Ultimately, it was his steadiness, his character, and his sureness about who he was and what he stood for that won me over, something you will get to know by reading the journal.
FROM: Unconventional, Unforgettable Dads
Published on April 13, 2009

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