The Navy Seals have gotten a lot of press lately. First we learned they had taken out the monster Osama bin Laden who had been hunted unsuccessfully since 9-11-2001. Then they recently pulled a daring raid that secured the safe release of two captives in Somalia. Normally their missions are covert and not front page news.
Both events were executed with precision that resulted in no loss of American life. They perform heroic deeds, yet the public doesn't know who they are individually. They are a rather mystical branch of the Armed Forces.
I used to think that Seals got their name because they swam like seals. However, they take their names from the environments in which they work: sea-air-land. Jake taught me that.
Jake and I became friends because his mother worked at the same company as I. School always got out before his mom got off work so he would come to the office to wait on her.
He would pull a chair up to my desk and we would talk. He was about ten years old at the time but could carry on a very adult conversation or could be very quiet if I were busy.
Jake was every mother's dream. He was intelligent taking all honors classes in school. He was a fine, multisport athlete, handsome and with a caring heart. I really enjoyed his visits. He became quite special to me.
Then in a blink of an eye, he was grown and choosing to enter the most frightening branch of the Navy--the Seals. I know his mother had hoped he would put his brain to work instead of his muscle and daring but she too saw his desire.
He came to visit before leaving for the fitness training and I literally grilled him for a couple of hours. I didn't want him in harms way and wanted to know what he was getting into. He totally convinced me of his zeal but frightened me for his safety.
When Jake got ready to leave that day, I gave him a goodbye hug. I was a bit startled. I have hugged softer trees. Jake was pure muscle with not a speck of fat. My favorite child was now a young man, lean and ready.
I later learned that Jake had not been chosen for the BUDs program. I know that had to crush him. Even with all he had going for him, he didn't qualify.
That was when I knew that those who do make it, and the percent is minuscule, are the very best of the very best. To those who knew him, he was the best but to the Seals that wasn't quite good enough.
Somehow I felt that the caring heart I so admired was actually a liability to a Seal. Jake became a Navy diver, though a choice assignment to be proud of, I am sure it was only a weak second best for him.
I know today as he reads of the raids that he is full of pride for the team, yet envious also.
Those who have come here a lot know I am someone who hates war and killing. But I do admire that these fellows accomplish incredible, necessary feats with just a minimum of enemy lives lost.
I salute a very special group of young men.