One of my daughters received an appointment to the Air Force Academy. It took a year for all the physical tests, visits, luncheons, interviews, and applications to be processed.
The bar she used for practicing the pull ups required of all incoming students still hangs in the entry to her old room.
Her father was the one who encouraged her to get an appointment. Not for any idealistic reasons. It's a free ride. Regardless, when the letter announcing her selection arrived from one of our senators, it was quite an honor.
Still, she didn't make up her mind about going until the last minute. She waited and waited. As the deadline got closer, she still hadn't decided whether she would go.
Finally the night before the decision absolutely positively had to be made, she chose a mainstream university, not a war college.
When I asked her why, her only reply was, "Because it felt right."
In retrospect she made the right choice, as far as I, as a parent, am concerned. Being a pilot might have meant deployment to the Middle East now. Also, as a woman she might have been one of the victims of the egregious sex scandal that rocked The Academy during the time she would have been there.
But it turns out that she's not the daughter I should have been worried about. While I was breathing a sigh of relief that my one child was going to remain a civilian, my other daughter turned out to be the one who chose to put herself in harm's way.
She is the one who is in a profession that makes her risk death every time she gets up in the morning. She is the one who takes her life in her hands, walking the ground under her command unarmed and unprotected.
She is deployed as part of a small army of volunteers who enter territory where attacks occur on a daily basis. Where there is rarely any warning to protect her from a maniac determined to commit suicide. She has no body armor. She doesn't carry a weapon. She isn't trained in martial arts.
Just last week at another facility like hers, seven people were killed by a fanatic who chose to die rather than surrender. There are hot spots like that all over. But there aren't enough tanks and weaponry to secure all of them. And those who are required to do their work under these stressful circumstances get no hazard pay.
Weapons of personal destruction are confiscated every day from any number of people entering the facilities where she works. Metal detectors are the only defense against these perpetrators of evil. And my daughter walks among them with nothing but pepper spray in her purse.
She isn't a soldier. She isn't a police officer. She isn't a guard in a maximum security prison. But lately hers has become one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.
She's a high school English teacher.