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9-year-old's dream of being a soldier comes true, and no, it's not a weird dream.

Nine-year-old Ethan Coleman has one dream.

He doesn't care about going to Disney World. He doesn't want a big-screen TV. He doesn't want to meet anyone famous. He doesn't want to meet football players and he doesn't want to go to Hawaii.

See, Ethan is a sick little boy. He has focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a kidney disease that means he'll be on medications for the rest of his life, including have to take six teaspoons of fish liver oil a day, and may one day need a kidney transplant. And the Make-A-Wish Foundation, that wonderful organization that grants wishes to sick children, wanted to grant him a wish.

They offered him all of the above things. To each he said no. Ethan had only one wish, one dream which unfortunately cannot come true: to be an Army soldier. He wouldn't budge, so the Army and the Make-A-Wish Foundation made his wish come true, and Ethan got to be a soldier for a day:

Debbie Coleman cannot say why, exactly, her son, Ethan, decided he wanted to be a soldier.

Correction: an Army soldier.

She knows only that it began as one might suspect: with video games and toy soldiers. I picture here the little plastic men my brother and I played with, the poor fellows who flew helmeted head over firmly planted feet through the air, only to die by firecracker.

But what for Ethan began at 7 years old with toy soldiers led to camouflage- style clothing and sheets, to voracious reading of all things Army and computer printouts of vehicles, which he learned to identify.

And this dream, unlike his pro football player fantasy, did not pass.


They cannot take away his kidney disease, which is Ethan's first desire. But what about a vacation trip, a chance to meet someone famous, a big-screen TV?

We are, however, talking of one 9-year-old and his very particular wish:

He would like an Army base to relocate into his backyard.

Not gonna happen, mom says.

Maybe you could meet the Kansas City Chiefs, she counters.

"But Army, Army, Army," Debbie tells me. "It all kept coming back to the Army, and you know as much about why as I do. We have no military in our family."

There's Disney World, the Make-A- Wish lady says. Half the Make-a-Wish kids choose Disney World. Or Hawaii.

Look, his mom says, I will even fly on a plane if you want to go to Disney World. And mom is terrified of flying.

Not even Mickey Mouse sways him.

The Army pulled out all the stops on this one. Maj. Cort Hunt, commander of the local Military Entrance Processing Station, put the offer out to Make-A- Wish late last year, not sure anyone would take it. Hunt has arranged for Ethan to go through the same drill as any other recruit today. They plan to test him and his buddy, Jake Smith, fingerprint them, hand them uniforms and swear them in.

And so this is how Ethan Moyer, a fourth-grader from Emporia, Kan., finds himself in Denver Sunday night, in a fancy conference room with an Army recruiter and glass pitchers of ice water and a bunch of people hanging on to his every word because no Make- A-Wish kid picks being a soldier.

We forget what it is like to be 9 years old and building cities out of cardboard boxes and positioning soldiers as lookouts in a battle in which there are no countries and no politicians, where nothing is permanent and the only truth is that there will always be good guys and bad.

So, Ethan does what you'd expect a 9-year-old with everyone looking at him to do:


His "recruiter," Sgt. 1st Class Nancy Alessandri, manages to get out of him that he likes to play Army video games and play basketball and that he wouldn't mind an Army job that would let him be a bomber on a tank.

"I'm told you like Special Forces," she says. "What do you like?"

"That you get to sneak up on people."

Of course.

During a break, I take him out into the hall and we sit on the floor and he tells me how he sets up his cardboard cities and his tanks and we talk about how far soldiers can fly and how many men a tank can take out. Then I tell him they might ask him to do push-ups today and ask him if he's ready.

Push-ups, smush-ups.

"I do push-ups every morning," Ethan says. "I can do 15. And I can do 20 sit-ups."

He drops in a plank and pulls off a stunner of a push-up. Then he sits backs on his knees and grins, a 9-year-old boy on the edge of a dream.

He wanted an Army base in his backyard so he could be a soldier all the time.

This story is inspiring and heavy on the "Awww!" factor. But one thing bothered me.

Why is a nine-year-old boy's dream of being a soldier so perplexing to everyone in this story? Have little boys finally become so feminized -- the dream of the Gloria Steinems and Catherine McKinnon's of the world -- that dreaming of being a soldier is weird? His mom says she has "no idea" where he got it from because there's "no military" in their family.

What, dreaming of being a soldier and fighting for your country is only normal if there was a dad or an uncle or a big brother who was a soldier? And I don't understand why they seemingly wanted to talk him out of being an Army soldier for a day. What dream is there that is more admirable than that? The values that are intrinsic to being a soldier are the ones you'd think parents would be falling all over each other to instill into their sons -- courage, honor, integrity, teamwork, strength, love of country.

Boys by their very nature want to be soldiers, cops, firemen. Boys don't play Mickey and Minnie Mouse in their backyards, they play G.I. Joe, Cops and Robbers, games that involve goods guys vs. bad guys. It's not weird or unusual for any little boy to dream of being a soldier, even if there's no military in their family. And it's a great dream for them to have, one to be encouraged.

Our military attracts the best and brightest among us, which is probably why Ethan was so drawn to it, and it's great that the Make-A-Wish Foundation was able to partner with the Army to give Ethan his wish of being a soldier for a day.

Hat Tip: Blackfive


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Comments (26)

I can think of some drill s... (Below threshold)

I can think of some drill sergeants who could give this young man an interesting view of military life...

Walter Reed should have bee... (Below threshold)
Oh God:

Walter Reed should have been part of his field trip, So that when he sees soilders who will never walk again he will understand that war is not just G.I. Joe.

As usual, the Left cannot u... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

As usual, the Left cannot understand nobility.

Ethan is a young man of uncommon principle, determination, and persistance.

Like the commercial says, not just strong:

Army Strong.

DJ: I agree. In fact, Etha... (Below threshold)

DJ: I agree. In fact, Ethan could very well be the Poster boy for ARMY STRONG.

God Bless you Ethan.<... (Below threshold)

God Bless you Ethan.

And kudos to Maj. Hunt and the Army to see the value of making this wish come true.

This is not about the polit... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

This is not about the politics of adults.
This is about a child, like too many children who may die too soon.
How fortunate we are to have lived as long as we have.
Please give at least a small donation here.

What, the kid didn't want t... (Below threshold)

What, the kid didn't want to be Navy? We need more navy video games. Which I believe are the answer to your question. When we played army somebody said pow pow and you fell over. Now they play video games and from nowhere someone blows their arm off. It's just a little too real. People still go in though I teach seniors and have recruiters in all the time and I have about ten kids who go in every year.

This is a child dying.<br /... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

This is a child dying.
Can we respect that?

I love this organiza... (Below threshold)

I love this organization and how they make things happen for kids that otherwise wouldn't have a chance! :)

So 'Oh God' has no God or b... (Below threshold)

So 'Oh God' has no God or brains.
If I lived close to the young man I'd take him to a firing range and let him shoot a lot of different weapons. I have German, American and Japanese from WWII along with a dozen or so modern hunting weapons. By the way, I did serve 22 years in the military.

And I don't understand w... (Below threshold)

And I don't understand why they seemingly wanted to talk him out of being an Army soldier for a day. What dream is there that is more admirable than that? The values that are intrinsic to being a soldier are the ones you'd think parents would be falling all over each other to instill into their sons -- courage, honor, integrity, teamwork, strength, love of country.

Are you out of your mind? It would be one thing if this kid wanted to be a soldier because they help people, spread freedom, or some other "Awww!" factor reason. But read the story. He wants to be a solider so he can sneak up on people, bomb them from a tank, and take out as many as he can.

Awww! Isn't that uncommon principle just so admirable? What parent wouldn't beam with pride hearing their child express such dreams?

I must agree with nogo. Des... (Below threshold)

I must agree with nogo. Despite his intense desire Ethan is still only a 9 year old boy who I don't think has any true idea of the nobility of being a soldier and the gruesome effects war can have. But I in no way want to diminish Ethan's dream with what I guess might sound like a condescending statement. He is a child whose life is in danger and I am happy those around him have allowed the Army to make his wish come true.

God bless Maj. Cort Hunt a... (Below threshold)

God bless Maj. Cort Hunt and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
And a large helping of shame on those who seek to rain on his parade. Outside of Berkeley, playing army is a natural part of growing up for boys. In our neighborhood we played army all the time, and bragging rights went to the ones who could sneak up on the others. It's good to see that not everything has changed.
Real boys grow up into real men.

Come on, people. He is a li... (Below threshold)

Come on, people. He is a little boy, with little boy dreams. When I was nine, we rode our bikes out into the woods, had toy rifles and pistols, pine cone grenades and fence post mortars. We sniped at each other, and died in the most dramatic ways. The military was admired and we debated on which branch of the service we would go into. Mostly Marines or fighter pilots. (It helped living close to Camp LeJeune and Seymour Johnson AFB). After five years in the Navy, I got out, still with pride in my service and severe disappointment with people who just don't get it. Being a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine is an honorable profession. I would rather a child look up to one of them than to an athlete or musician.

No, we're not out of our mi... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

No, we're not out of our mind, Brian.

And we're not questioning your patriotism, either. We are wondering what you've done with it, since it's not in evident use, is all.

I don't decry a 9 year-old'... (Below threshold)

I don't decry a 9 year-old's desire to drive a tank, shoot missiles or bombs, or stand on a rock going "rat-a-tat-tat" while his friends take imaginary shrapnel. That's normal behavior. But those who would pervert that fantasy by wrapping him in the flag and holding him up as a prop and a beacon of honor are crossing the line.

Remember, the kid didn't say he wants to be a soldier because he admires them, they're heros, they're brave, they protect people, etc. That would be legitimate to encourage. But he didn't say that. He said he wants to be a solider because they get to sneak up on and kill people. And when he got to meet an Army rep, he didn't ask if it was hard to be brave; he asked how many people a tank could "take out". While those are true and necessary realities that the military has to deal with, a child's interest in them does not represent "uncommon principle". Certainly if the same desire were expressed by a Palestinian child, the Wizbang crowd would have a much different opinion.

In the Army?In the... (Below threshold)

In the Army?

In the ARMY!?!?!

Why not the Navy?

I love this story. I think... (Below threshold)

I love this story. I think I would have chosen this as my dream, too.

We played War all the time as kids. Most games (fun ones, that is) are based on the concept of fighting and holding territory. Tag, Hide-n-go-Seek, Capture the Flag, our own invention we called "Round the House", all good times.

Right now the kids are playing "Call of Duty 4" as their 1/2 hour after school video time. Last week we finished "Ender's Game" for our family book.

And yes, there is a man in the house. A gorgeous hunk o' man, descended from warriors, brave and true. As his sons and daughters will also be.

And we're not questionin... (Below threshold)

And we're not questioning your patriotism, either. We are wondering what you've done with it, since it's not in evident use, is all.

Yeah, DJ. Because what's more patriotic than finding a little boy whose dying wish is to take people out with a tank, and twisting him into your poster child for "honor" and "integrity"? Perhaps you should join Hamas. They share your "patriotic" values.

"he didn't ask if it was... (Below threshold)

"he didn't ask if it was hard to be brave;"

Gee - he didn't get all emo! You don't get it! He WANTS to be like his heroes! THEY don't stand around asking themselves if they're brave! What concept does a 9-year old have of military life?

Kids need heroes. No, it's not politically correct - but it's reality. And we tear the heroes apart as soon as they appear, because we can't really have 'heroes' like that around any more, can we? The kids might learn certain concepts like, oh, honor... and courage... and integrity... and maybe even learn to love their country. How outmoded! How ridiculous!

But how needed...

This boy has found heroes he can believe in. Your opinion has no effect on his beliefs - and thank heaven for that. The men who helped him will stand a bit taller, a bit straighter - because they've seen themselves through the eyes of a boy who idolizes them, and they'll do their best as individuals to make sure they don't fail him. Maybe one of them will be in a situation one day akin to Abu Ghraib... and stop his fellows because he remembers how it felt to be a hero to a 9-year old. Because heroism works both ways, Brian.

If we appreciate them - and can appreciate a young man who wants to be like them - and you don't like it... then it's your loss.

Just for the record - I mea... (Below threshold)

Just for the record - I meant my opening comment to be tongue in cheek!

My boys Grant 11Ca... (Below threshold)

My boys Grant 11

Caleb 9

Their friend Charlie, 11
Scott 10
Brandon 9

get together and build forts, run through the woods and cattle pasture with their toy guns and grenades playing army all the time. I have more camo clothing and bedding around my home than most military bases /exagerration

Charlie, Grant, and Caleb started the Young Marines program last Saturday. They go through bootcamp, on a kid level, but it's tough on them. They do the drills, run the laps, do the push ups, situps, pull ups, have the haircuts, salute, say yes sir/no sir and will be issued their cammies in two weeks.

I am proud of them. While I fear one day they will grow up and actually join the army or marines, I also realize someone has to do it. Why not my kids? Let them play soldiers and the bad guys. Let them build forts and work out strategies on how to win the battle, even if imaginary. It's how they learn.

You know, F**k you, Laura I... (Below threshold)

You know, F**k you, Laura Ingram, that makes this combat vet proud enough to cry.

What does this have to do w... (Below threshold)

What does this have to do with Laura Ingraham, Mundane?

His mom says she has "no... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

His mom says she has "no idea" where he got it from because there's "no military" in their family.

I had no history of military service in my family. Somehow, I ended up with a desire to atend West Point. I did and I graduated and served as an Army officer. Apparently, I am some sort of freak of nature.

This will bother the libera... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

This will bother the liberals becuase the kid dont want to be a herb gardener or tree hugger he want to be a solder






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