Later this morning I will be driving to Charleston, SC to attend a lecture at the Citadel, the south’s oldest and most prestigious military school. My stepfather is speaking about his recent book, which recounts his experiences as a highly decorated paratrooper during the Second World War. I’ve read the book and find it nearly impossible to image myself surviving as he did. I look forward to sitting in the back of the lecture hall while the students, all enrolled in officer candidate classes, ask questions. My stepfather is a remarkable man with immense energy and unfailing good humor. He is also a man who believes deeply that America is the finest country on earth and that it is worth giving your life to preserve it. As gentle as he is to his friends and family, he is also capable of great and terrible violence in defense of his values. It is a dichotomy of character and experience I will never completely understand.