Military inheritance

Parents who served in war influenced students’ decisions after high school


Esmeralda Mascorro

Senior Zariah Gonzales and her father, Manuel Gonzales, share a close bond. He keeps a watchful eye over her but still lets her experience her teenage years. Her father has supported her all throughout high school with football, wrestling, and also maintaining grades.

Parents, without a doubt, are mostly responsible for their children’s character development. From the way they speak to their child to the way they act themselves, it all leaves an impression.

Parents who have been in the military in the past or are currently in the military usually have a different mindset than most parents, and that changes the way their children act and how they handle situations.

So Her, a senior, is a citizen of the United States because of his father’s service on the American side during Vietnam. “Without him, I wouldn’t be here today.”

His mother was also living in Vietnam during the time and has told Her stories of intense hardships she faced as a mother during that time. From traveling between Northern and Southern Vietnam with her two sons and two daughters during wartime to seeing starving and/or wounded children abandoned and dying because they could not keep up with their families, she suffered no less than his father did.

Because of the intense stories from war, though heroic, Her has never considered enlisting. “I don’t think I’m tough enough.”

Unlike Her, for senior Zariah Gonzales, the military has always been a part of her life. Her father served three combat tours in Vietnam with the Air Force.

Upon coming home, he resumed his civilian life and got a job working for civil services.

Years later, however, he developed post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Gonzales recalled the day he told her. They had been driving to Sacramento and he had lost his sense of awareness, consequently driving them to a completely different city.

More often than not he wakes up with nightmares and has intense flashbacks, forever reminding him of the horrors he faced so many years ago.

To Gonzales’s dismay, his PTSD translates to him forever being a soldier in his mind. “He’ll be doing something like washing dishes then he’ll think he was in the jungle or something.” Often, his mind changes his surroundings and can alter the appearance of a living room so extensively that it resembles a war zone.

Refreshing those memories are the countless photos he keeps in albums, depicting the gruesome scenes he faced, commemorating the lives lost.

Gonzales, much like Her, has heard of the stories of countless children being left behind because they were too slow or too dependent to stay safe during wartime. In a photo album her father keeps, there are pictures of babies and children stacked on top of each other along heavily-trafficked jungle pathways.
The military plays such a huge role in her life despite her father serving so many years ago. To this day her father explicitly remembers his life in the military and some of the behaviors have not left him.

For instance, he still tucks his bed in uniformly almost as soon as he wakes up. His stern behavior and disciplined disposition greatly affected Gonzales, who claims that the behaviors she inherited from her father got her through football conditioning.

However, even though she is encouraged by her father to be proud of what she does and own up to her action, he warns her that there is a difference between bravery and foolishness. She remembers him saying, “It’s okay to be a brave soldier, just don’t be a foolish one.”

Despite the gruesome scenes she knew she would be exposed to, she wanted to join the Air Force like her father. However, she halted her plans due to sudden heart complications. Now that she is off of her prescribed heart medication, she might consider it later on.

Because of her deep respect and appreciation for those in the military, Gonzales finds it insulting when she hears students try to use the military as a second option. “Anything you do, you should do with passion; if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, why go?”

Gonzales also acknowledged students going to the military to pay for their schooling later, and while she supports it, she wants people to be fully aware of the extremity of the situation. “This is not just another job. You have to realize you are no longer a citizen, you are now a soldier.”