THe Harting Family

THe Harting Family

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Son's Reflection

Anyone that reads my blog knows I have a son that is Freshman in college. Today my son posted a note on his facebook to share a paper he wrote for his English class. My son wants to be a Marine and I have always thought he was pretty self assured and confident. To my amazement I find that wasn't necessarily true and maybe garnered a little insight as to why Marines (most military) shed their first names. Anyhow I asked him if I could share this with my readers and he said "sure" here goes.

Michael vs. Harting

My name comes from the Hebrew word Mikha'el, which is based off the Hebrew question “Who is like God?” This is also associated with the Archangel St. Michael. I tend to associate myself with the Archangel, not just because we share the same name but because he does what I one day plan to do; lead men (in his case angels) in combat. If you do not know, it is told that St. Michael is one of the field commanders in God’s army, which is somewhat similar to what I want to do (aside from the whole divinity part) which is be an infantry platoon commander in the United States Marines.

I never gave my first name much thought until around high school, which is where I started to re-assess and re-shape myself as a person. In high school I joined the NJROTC program, where it is custom to call others by their last name. As I progressed through this program, I became mentally and physically stronger; I had also become accustomed to being called Harting, my last name. It was after all this, that I realized that I was no longer “Michael” a name that I associated with a weak individual, but I was now a new person, I was “Harting”, a stronger more motivated person, and I allowed very few people to actually call me by my first name because of this. It’s still something that I deal with today, I tend to be more liberal with whom I allow to call me by my first name, but I still have little moments when I just do not like being called Michael.

It’s not that I hate my first name, it’s more that it takes me back to a time that I’d rather forget and not like to think of, back when I was weak and had no drive. Back when being average and sometimes mediocre was just fine. I think it’s funny, to be honest, how something so simple as a first name, can bring about such mellow emotion in me. Even now as I write this paper, I’m taken back to Havelock Middle School, back when my hair was long, my arms were skinny, and my stomach slightly protruded over my belt buckle. Back when I wanted to be a Marine, but thought I couldn't and that I was silly and stupid for even having such high aspirations, that perhaps the farthest I would get was the recruiting office, only then to quit after I had to face the reality that the Marines was an organization of challenge…..and the worst part is that I would be fine with that. How can a person, how could I, find any kind of acceptance…in quitting?! What does that say about that person’s character?!

I’ll tell you.

It says they are WEAK!

It says they are PITIFUL!

Worst of all it says they are unreliable….that they are untrustworthy.

And that’s unacceptable.

Now I am strong, my hair is short, my arms are larger, and I can proudly say that I have well defined abs. I still want to be a Marine, but now know I can be and that the farthest I can go is however far the limit is... and then go farther. Not only do I take on challenges now, I embrace them, knowing that when I overcome them, because I will overcome them, I will be a better person, not only in physical strength, but in character. I’ve now come to realize that quitting is no longer an option, that through quitting nothing will be gained and all will be useless and lost.

A friend of mine, someone who I care a great deal for, asked me if I preferred to be called “Michael” or “mike”. .. I couldn’t answer them. I wanted to tell them neither…that I was “Harting” not “Michael”, but they made me start to think, maybe it was time I gave “Michael” a second chance. If I were to allow myself to become “Michael” again, I wouldn’t go back to that kid I left behind in HMS, but maybe I could build “Michael” off of the foundations of who “Harting” is, and progress on from there.

I just came to realize how dramatic, and in some way funny, this whole paper is. I mean seriously, it sounds like I have split personalities or something. It also makes me wonder if there are other people out there who are in a similar situation, and if so, how many? I’m not sure, and in the end it probably doesn’t matter, because we are who we make ourselves to be.



Renee said...

very interesting! I can understand your son's perception of his first & last name. My husband has gone by "Rich" - an abbreviation of our last name, since he joined the army at age 18. It's even on our bank account. His 'real' name symbolizes a street kid from Cali who ate and slept where he could; a kid who found drugs amid the rough live...Rich is the man he became - an honorable man, a good man...a strong Soldier. When he got to Afghanistan the troops he works around called him by his real name..he quickly told them that "XXXX" was not his name and that he is called Rich. I actually think he wants to legally change it.

USMCWIFE said...

My son actually asks that question, I think he will see many felt the same way for various different reasons. We are who we make ourselves and obviously your husband has made himself a man of honor, whatever his name.