Why This Army Matters

NORTHERN LIGHTS, UKAHALA–A special message from the Commander.

Soldiers of RFCP,

Yesterday morning around 5:30 a.m., my grandfather died. He was the Italian side of me, and a perfect representation of what an adoring grandfather should be. When kissing us grandkids goodbye after a visit, he always slipped $5 bills into our hands like it was a secret deal just between us. And he had the best earthquake laugh, deep and full of genuine, jovial joy. He was far less serious and complicated than are I and some of the others I share genes with. It is miraculous how he managed to make life and love uncomplicated–if you were to ask me, I’d say there is no such thing. But his existence contradicted that.

About two years ago, still in his 90s, mind you, he broke his neck. We thought that was the end of the road. He was intubated in the hospital (for my younger soldiers, “intubated” means there is a tube inserted deep into your throat to help you breathe when your body doesn’t want to breathe for you). Removing the tubes from his throat was risky, and would tell us whether or not he was going to be able to breathe on his own again. We prepared for the worst, and the doctors prepared to remove the tubes in a few days.

The next day, my dad got a phone call from the hospital. “Hello, Mr. [xxx]? Your father ripped out his own intubation tubes and is sitting on the end of the bed asking to go home.”

THOSE are the genes of my grandfather—and in me, your leader. I am so damn proud.

That is just one of many memories I am sure I’ll be cherishing in the coming days and into the future. I love him dearly and honor his life. I hope he is with my brother.

Now I want to do as the title of this post says and remind you why this army matters.

The space of internet we call “RFCP,” “our army,” is more than an army. It is a network of humans who love each other–and that network in the most literal way forms a net that catches and supports anyone in it. Since announcing that my family has endured this loss, I have received the most beautiful displays of affection and comfort from the soldiers.

Field Marshal Killua has checked in on me every night. He cherishes his Muslim faith, and although I am not Muslim, he has consoled me with his belief in heaven and his confidence that God is with us in our time of sorrow. I have been blessed to speak to him about spiritual matters and about his own grandmother, who he lost when he was three. How amazing is it to have such love and share such respect for each other across two different religions, especially in this world?

Finally, this army matters because as I think about what is ahead for me–the pain of the funeral, the more longterm pain of growing up, surviving through more hard times, and becoming the good man I want to always be, I think about making my army and my soldiers proud. I think about whether I am exhibiting the courage you would expect of me if you were next to your Commander in person. I think about whether I am being as strong as you’d expect me to be. As kind. As powerful. As loving. Motivated by your tender love and your faith in me, I try to be the great person you think I am.

In an age when there are no conventional wars for RFCP to wage as we once did, this army still matters for so many reasons–for its values, its people, and its incredible, heroic history of perseverance in the midst of hatred no one should ever have to go through. But mostly, THIS, what you see above, is why it matters.

This locust of people we call RFCP matters because I love these people. RFCP is the connection between us all. It is a place for us to be together. It is the original–nothing else can be it, or come close to it–and it is the eternal bond which binds us. It matters because it matters to us. It just matters.

Thank you so much for the support you have risen up to give me in my time of need. You truly are soldiers who live out everything I wanted us to stand for.

Please continue to send your caring thoughts to me and my family as we go forward.

And please take this message into your heart and reaffirm this truth with me: This army matters.

I love you always.

– Commander Prior

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