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AFTERWORD G.I. Joes for Real BY MARTHA BARTLE om cried hysterically, and refused to let go of my brother. My father stood with a blank expression on his face, pretending not to notice his eyes welling up with tears. And I watched all of this, biting my lip and clenching my jaw to avoid breaking down. We stood outside the Military at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. We had arrived at 5:30 in the morning, and after six hours of “processing,” my 20-year-old brothermy only sibling was about to get in a maroon van and be taken to the airport to board a plane for Fort Benning, Georgia. Once there, he would begin basic training in the United States Army, training he hopes will lead him to a career as a Green Beret. “I’m doing this for a reason, Mom,” he said. “Just remember that.” My brother and I are on opposite sides of the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword,” so you can imagine my disdain when he first expressed his become a career military man. He was 8 and dressed up as G.I. Joe for Halloween. While I buried my nose in books and spent most of my time with pen and paper in hand, he bought paints to camouflage his face and organized a street-wide acorn war complete with munitions stashes and attack strategies. “I want to be G.I. Joe for real,” he used to say, “and I’ll save people in jungles and have the coolest guns of anyone?’ When the first Gulf War broke out, we were in elementary school. We hung yellow ribbons around trees and sang “Proud to be an American” in our school choir. But it seemed so distant and without direct consequence; we didn’t know anyone who fought or died. By the time we were in high school, we were The author and her brother in 1985. without a care in the world. What sort place called Texas Military Institute, a of teenagers kept up with international private Episcopal high school whose affairs anyway? Ironically, we were at a most famous alumnus was General 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 4/23 /04