This is a short essay by Amanda Jones, a student at Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles.
When my boyfriend, David, decided to become a Marine, I was hurt, appalled, and powerless. I understood why he had to do it. His parents were from Guatemala. His father had received a deportation order. His mother would follow. His little brother, a U.S. citizen, unknowingly had his fate in the balance: be sent to foster care or go with his parents to Guatemala. He barely spoke a word of Spanish.
If David joined the U.S. military, his parents could stay in the States. So David joined, to protect his family, and to prove himself to me.
I hated his decision to join the military, and told him so. I wanted him home, with me. But his recruiter explained to us that he could go to school for free, get college credits for his training, and gain experience in aviation engineering, something he’s always been interested in. His love for math could finally shine through. And, with him ready to give his life for his country, his parents could avoid deportation.
When he took the physical, he ran into a hiccup. His blood pressure was too high, although that was probably from nervousness. He needed a doctor’s note nonetheless before taking the physical exam again. I drove him to the doctor’s office, where we learned that he has heart skips. The doctor told David to go see a cardiologist, but someone without a job and with illegal parents doesn’t have insurance for that. Without another option to save his parents, his brother, and his future, David continued on. I hope that his heart problem doesn’t come back to haunt us.
As time goes on, I am excited to tell people that my boyfriend is a Marine. He might not be on active duty yet, but he passed the physical, took the oath, and was assigned the job of aviation mechanic. I was worried about his future, but now he has shown what a strong person he is, willing to give up years of his youth for his family. He going to be a Marine, and I am so proud of him.
I had to do some of my own growing as he started this journey. I had to stop thinking about myself and what I wanted. I wanted to tell him not to go, that his parents shouldn’t have come here without papers. I thought, this is their mistake, not his. He shouldn’t have to pay for their mistakes. However, life is not that black and white, and I am happy that he showed that kind of responsibility.
David is set to leave for boot camp on February fifth, where he will spend 3 months training without access to internet, phones, or family. He will have combat training for another month immediately after. He wants to be the best in his class, and wants to gain rank quickly. It will be hard, but he has a positive attitude that I admire. I could never do what he will, and he is an example that I now have to follow when it comes to dedication, responsibility, and determination. Go to war, save your parents from La Migra. That’s love.