Op-Ed: Every Morning I Wake Up And Go To War

Graphic by Leon Kamen.

What are you doing at 4:00 in the morning? Most of UCLA is either asleep, hungover like degenerate civilians, or having sex without giving a single thought to our country’s enemies who seek to take our freedom away from us.

But not me. I wake up at 4:00 every morning, put on my standard issue ROTC camouflage uniform, exit my Rieber Terrace dorm room, and step out onto the front lines to risk my life to defend your freedoms. Make no mistake: we are at war. With whom? I do not know. But I march around the university grounds at dawn every morning, my rifle and army green Hydroflask in hand, and stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at every flag pole to defend the borders of our open campus.

Our enemy is strong; they are determined; they probably don’t look like me; and I still have no idea who they are, but that only attests to their strength and cunning. For all the uncertainty, what I do know is this: I am at war, and I know nothing else than going to war every morning. Sometimes the war is at UCLA, sometimes it is at the John Wooden Center if it is raining outside, and sometimes it is at Camp Pendleton dressed as Iraqi schoolchildren. But the war is constant, and it is everywhere, because somebody told me it was.

War is omnipresent, but I do get my breaks. We get leave once a week on Thursday nights, when our unit bravely attends karaoke night at Barney’s Beanery to sing Battle Hymn of the Republic until the early hours of the morning. Immediately after, at 4:00 AM, we resume war.

Once a year we have the military ball where our dames dance with us to popular music. This is not without its tactical benefits: our enemy can dance; we must be able to outdance them.

What do I ask in return for my sacrifices? The duty and honor that comes with serving my country is payment enough, but I also accept Instagram followers, respect from my civilian peers, and a full scholarship contingent on my agency in spreading democracy.

I will never stop defending our freedoms from those who try to take them away. I will never stop protecting my fellow countrymen, nor will I ever stop being at war.