Thursday, June 3, 2010

Good Theater makes you think: Sonia Flew

DH and I saw Sonia Flew a few weeks ago at the San Jose Rep.  It was a wonderful piece, with a special callout to all the gals:  Ivonne Coll as Sonia and Marta, Kwana Martinez as Nina and as Pilar, and Tiffany Solano as Jen and Young Sonia.  Cast bios and pictures are here.

The center of the plot is Sonia, a Cuban immigrant who was sent, by her parents, to the US alone as a child to escape Castro's regime.  She never sees them again.  Decades later, her son announces he is joining the military in a patriotic fervor post 9/11.  Sonia's personal history causes her to react negatively and angrily to the decision, as she faces another heart-wrenching loss.  Meantime, her father-in-law, who himself served, is in full support on the son's decision.  The play's last weekend is June 6th, so if you think you might want to see it, call now!

DH and I talked a lot after the play, which was a great thing.  While it is fun to see light fluffy entertainment, we love it most when a play gets us thinking and talking about topics that don't come up everyday.  We both shared a visceral fear at the thought of either of the boys enlisting, but acknowledge that this is a natural protective parental reaction.  Who among us could calmly face the prospect of a child maimed physically or psychologically in war, or worse still, killed in the line of duty?

And yet, while I lean toward pacificism, finding it hard to ever justify the killing of another person for anything short of pure self-defense (as opposed to oil or economic advantage), I support fully the courage and patriotism of our military men and women.  Having been born elsewhere, I am very grateful for my citizenship in the US, and all the benefits that come with it.  I considered going to West Point when I graduated high school.  My ex-Marine Dad walked SO tall that year, just thinking about it!  I even went so far as to get the address of a congressional representative to request appointment. 

In the end, I chickened out.  While my grades would have been good enough, I was never very athletic, as discussed in my last post.  I thought I probably would not be able to meet the physical rigors of the service.  Also, my interest in attending was more in the challenge of doing something hard, to prove I could, than in actually being in the military.  When a scholarship to a state university came through, that simplified my choices.  Free tuition without doing any push-ups--simple.

I can more easily picture one of my children opting for the military than the other.  Though I suppose you never know what life may bring.  The military has many more working class enlisted than middle class, which is a source of guilt as I live my comfortable middle class life.  The fact that young men and women with fewer options for college funding join the military doesn't seem so wrong to me--I think there should be some benefit to serving.  But it does seem wrong that income level means more working class than middle/upper class families will face the anguish of a mother's worst fears.

The other option would be mandatory service for all, like in my birth nation and many others.  Of course, the more educated will still land in the slightly safer jobs, running communications and computers closer to headquarters rather than checking for roadside bombs.

If either of my sons did announce he was heading for the service (we have the Navy and Marines represented in our family), I would at least know it was something they chose for themselves, and not something forced on them by economics or the government. Under that circumstance, how I could I be anything BUT proud of that, while I try to quiet the fears in my heart.


  1. I am impressed to see that you were even conisdering West Point. Maggie's cousin is a history professor there and is going to give a tour to dad and I.

    I kick myself almost daily for not serving and not becoming public servant of some sort. I was accpeted to the NY State Police, onlyto turn it down beacuse at 22 "I didn't want to be my dad", though in retrospect, I do for more reasons then I tell him.

    Then I was accepted to the NY/NJ Port Authority and would have been stationed at the station of the first responders to the 9/11 tragedy. So I might not be writing this had my past been different.

    Service is a beautiful, selfless gift. I thank God every day we have people who are willing to walk that line for us, regardless of reasoning.

  2. I agree with so many of your points, as we "discussed" in our emails. We have never discouraged the kids from considering any potential career. (Well, except politics, but come on. Duh.) But they're still young enough to aspire to rock musician, pop star, and Manchester United goalie. Just the other day, though, I was chatting with my youngest about ROTC and how to pay for college (if the goalie thing doesn't pan out).

  3. Jomama, FYI, my knitter daughter got an appointment to go to the naval academy, but decided against it at the end (didn't want someone telling her how she could roll up her socks). She pursued it because she liked the challenge of going after something so hard to attain. Her former-navy father walked tall. ~ Little Drummer Girl


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