NOTES: New series. See Part One.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the West Wing or any of its related
characters. Don't sue.
SUMMARY: Different people of the West Wing reflect on their lives so
I'm beginning to believe that I have more meetings day by day
than the President himself. I suppose that comes with the territory
though. Day in and day out, this is what I do. I wish someone had
told me this when I enlisted. Never in my life could I have believed
that I would come this far. I joined just in time for Vietnam and the
whole time I was there, I felt people's eyes on me, and I wondered if
I could trust these people with my life.
Turns out I could.
Every time I meet with these guys, I feel like they're going to
tell me to go to the President and announce that we need to declare
war on some other country. I don't want more young people to go
through those horrors. I'm a soldier but I am in no hurry to send
young men and women out on the battlefield. That's my job as chairman
of the joint the chiefs; don't let war break out again.
I see that Sam is going after "don't ask, don't tell" again next
month. I find it interesting that he sent me a note telling me about
it. Sam Seaborn is an eager young man, kind-hearted too. I hope he
gets what he wants as far as this goes; I'm not going to do anything
unless Leo or the President asks me to. I've already done the social
change. I'd love to help do it again, but my days are full of so much.
Maybe I'll have my assistant clear that day for me.
My father once told me that life would never be easy. When I
joined the Navy, he told me that life had just gotten a hell of a lot
harder.; he also said that because of the choice I made, he would not
allow me to fail. I had to stick through the whole thing and never
give up. It's because of him that I'm here right now. I refused to
let him down.
I've fought in three wars and the memories are enough to keep me
up at night. My wife always asks me how she can help, and I have no
answer for her. She can't make the blood or the fire go away. The
only thing that I can do is spend my life trying to make sure that
war does not break out again; not on my watch.
I know what I want to do today. I have so many meetings, I don't
think Ill be able to. I heard that Josh Lyman had a meeting with ATVA
a while ago. Leo has been taking care of him, but I wonder if I can't
be of any help. I want to help. When I was shot in Vietnam, I wasn't
sure I'd ever make it back to the person I was. I was right too.
Getting shot changes you. Still, I'd like to talk to Josh, maybe
share with him. Of course he's probably got everyone crawling out of
the woodwork to "share" with him.
I think I'll just leave him alone. If someone needs me, they can
ask for me. If someone asks, I'd be there in a flash.
I need to spend more time with my family. I need to spend time
with my grandchildren. I want to spend a day without this uniform on.
This uniform seems to represent all the time I've spent in bloody
waters and all the guns I've fired. I want to show up to work in this
uniform because it represents the things I've done for my country,
but this weekend, I'm going to take my family to the park or
something, and I'm going to put this uniform in the closet.
I'm not consumed by the past. I know a few people who are. My
life consists of all the memories I have and all the opportunities
that lie ahead of me. I feel like an old man. I'm surrounded by young
men and women who take it upon themselves to change the world, people
like Sam Seaborn, Josh Lyman and CJ Cregg. When I was Josh's age, I
was in Vietnam
I wonder if I could have done something different with my life,
what would have changed?
I talk about opportunities for the future and then I think about
the past. I'm an old man. My opportunities for the future live in my
grandkids. My job is to keep the joint chiefs sane and make sure the
world keeps turning. That's the President's job too.
Bartlet and I have more in common than not. Some of my colleagues
have had the nerve to express to me that they think he's a bad
military leader. I gave them a few choice words in response. It's one
thing to join the military in order to fight a war; it's another
thing entirely to join in order to go looking for wars to fight.
Cooler heads need to prevail. I'm tired of meetings where people tell
me where we need to strike.
I wish my parents could see me now. I remember my mother was
worried about how I'd fare in the military, how I would be treated. I
think she was afraid I was going to be killed before I ever shipped
out. I might have been too, but I didn't let that stop me. I have
never let fear or anxiety stop me from doing what I believe needs to
be done. That's another thing my father taught me. My unit was
disrupted at first, but we ended up tolerating each other and we
became the best unit in operation.
We saved each other's lives.
I made friends those first few years that I still cherish today.
We became a family and that is something that I will always treasure.
There's something about being in a military situation with a group of
people who are sharing your ideals and your experiments that brings
you into a family, no matter what your skin color, no matter what
your sexual orientation is either. These people are bonding together
to serve their country and make a difference, and we want to kick
them out because they lead different lives? They want to be there and
fight for this country. The way I see it, with all the sexual
harassment cases in this military, we don't need "don't ask, don't
tell" or any other kind of policy on gays in the military. Let them
be and start going after those officers who can't keep their damn
hands to themselves.
Maybe I should go to Sam's meeting after all.
I hope I can get home in time for dinner tonight. The joint
chiefs are meeting at four. I have to play delegate again. I wish my
buddies from Vietnam comprised the board instead of some of these
goons. At least the lot of them have more decency than bloodlust; I
can deal with these guys. Jack Reed is not too bad and Max gives us a
lot of political leverage. Suzy Carroll is a good liaison with the
CIA and the NSA. On the whole, we're a good group. Bartlet has a good
team working for him in us.
I think I'll call my wife when I get out of this meeting. We
should set up a family picnic for this weekend, or something like
that. It seems like everything I think about anymore is my job. Work
is not my life. I live for my family and it is because I want to keep
my family safe that I work so hard. When I joined up, I did so
because I wanted to take care of my family and I felt that by serving
and protecting my country, I was also serving and protecting my
family. I still believe that today.
My wife understands. I think they all do. My grandson wants to
join the navy someday. He can't now because he's only ten, but I've
assured him that he'll get there someday. His parents buy him ship
models and he has one of my purple hearts on display in his bedroom;
he's quite proud of it.
It's almost unbelievable the things we survive. Me, my family, my
friends, entire countries, Leo McGarry and Josh Lyman, Jed
Bartlet... Leo and I survived Vietnam together; Josh and Bartlet
survived an act of extreme racism and violence together. We have all
Beat that with a stick.