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Good soldier

I have a confession to make: I am a daughter of a good soldier. It may not sound good to others who have lost their faith in military men in the Philippines due to the issues our nation has faced, but I stand my ground and say it loud and proud: I am a daughter of a good soldier.

Yes, good soldiers still exist—in the Armed Forces and in our everyday lives. They may not wear their camouflage jackets, or you could have failed to notice them, but they’rejust everywhere.

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Like in my case, my father is one good soldier who I get to see every single day, and I am so grateful that God allows me to constantly be with this brave and loving soul.

I still remember that moment when I asked him about his profession. It was a sunny day in usually rainy September, and I asked him: “Dad, why did you choose to become a soldier? I don’t know what makes you happy being one.”

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Indeed, what is happiness if your own life is at stake on the frontline of war and terrorism? You always come face to face with danger, unsure if you still have a future with your family and loved ones.

My Dad served more than 30 years in the Army. He is a loving man but he’s quite reserved. Sometimes I think he is loyal to the military to a fault because he keeps his silence even to us, his own family, even after his retirement from the service.

You know that old military adage? “What you see, what you hear, when you leave, leave it here.”

I remember that at the time when I asked him why he chose to be a soldier, I was struggling to stay in my job. I think I was seeking some reassurance or encouragement from him—probably his secret in being able to stay in one job for over 30 years.

Funny how my Dad was able to stay loyal to his job for so long when I was only in my first year in my job and I was already thinking of giving up. I wished I had inherited his sense of trust and loyalty.

Shame on me. I am a daughter of a good soldier and yet I can’t even find the guts to endure the pain and keep one job. I don’t even know if what I was doing will ever make me happy. So out of curiosity, I decided to squeeze some wisdom from this golden boy in my life.

We were driving somewhere for another adventure so it took a couple of minutes before he answered. That’s also one of the best qualities I admire about him—focus. If he could have the focus of a sniper, I can be easily distracted. (But I can also be observant and alert.)

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My siblings were also in the car. We were all silent and waiting for his response because it was one of the questions we had learned to keep within us. Our father was quite domineering, as he was raised to be an alpha male. So there were things about him that we sometimes chose not to question.

We didn’t expect much also because this was one of those “talks” we normally had in the family. As his precious daughters, we thought it was okay with him to let his guard down for us. Finally, his reply came.

“What are you talking about?” Defense. “For me, it is the noblest job on earth. Having to serve people, save them, and protect them while risking all that you have… You are a soldier and a hero at the same time. That’s more than any human can do for humanity.” Attack.

My jaw dropped. People so rarely talk about compassion these days that I hardly believed what I just heard.

That’s my guy! I thought as I mentally threw a fist in the air. There he goes again, my ever-loving Dad, with a heart of gold.

I’m sure that my Dad is not the only one who holds this motivation and intention for the common good. Yet I hope every soldier thinks this way.

Thus, I offer my respect to all military men who serve the country with integrity. I will keep these in mind: The pain and fatigue you have endured, the courage you have built inside your walls, the family you have left behind for your love of country, the peace you have prayed hard for, the people you have protected and saved as you sacrifice your lives—these I will never forget as I salute you.

I know my Dad is not alone. There are still soldiers who find happiness in serving the country with audacity and gallantry. I just hope that just like my Dad, these military men will survive war and terrorism and be able to go home to their family. It is not yet too late. Anyone can dream.

One of the best realizations I have in life is that when my Dad left the service, it was the best time of our lives. Back then when he retired, I felt that there was nothing more blissful for a child like me than knowing that my father’s time is mine forever. The happy days he had at work, for being a soldier who is loyal to a fault, may have ended, but he would be with the people he had fought hard to live for.

He is such a selfless man. Sometimes I can’t comprehend how he had the courage to become a soldier, yet he doesn’t have the guts to see me, his daughter, get hurt, let alone allow me to have a scratch on my skin.

As much as I hate to admit it, soldiers are heroes, and heroes do bleed, and they’re mortals, too. The inevitable could happen. He has his own vulnerabilities as well. But I am a daughter of a good soldier, and as his daughter, I will try to fall behind his steps and follow his acts of bravery—protect him and love him in every way that I can.

Whatever challenges I’ve yet to face, even if I fail to keep a job for 30 years, I will treasure the things he said to me that day. I will keep listening to his voice in my head, while forever being grateful that even though my father was a soldier, I was given a chance to experience his selfless love. God didn’t only give him one day to live; He blessed my father with the strength to survive the war and this life that he wants to live with fearless joy and love for his family.

Marijoe Serrano, 22, is a copywriter.

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