I am writing, dear friend, to wish you luck on your journey. As you would imagine, I'm dumbfounded by your decision to join the military. To be sure, I would question this choice made by anyone, but especially you.

Part of my aversion stems from your age. Subjecting yourself to others' wishes just when our thoughts are now considered the constructs of full-fledged adults seems a terrible disregard of responsibility. Further, I cannot help but fear some of these young bucks who will no doubt be your superiors will single you out for abuse because of your true seniority.

My forthright rejection of our current government's militaristc rule also provides ample fodder for despising your decision. I cannot think of another less desirable time to serve in all of U.S. history, including Vietnam. At least in that conflict, I could've claimed ignorance to our wrongdoing for a little while. In Iraq, we telegraphed our ill intent.

But, more than anything, I object to your enlistment simply because it's you: my best friend in the whole wide world, a person I would do anything for based upon my belief that you are good. And this belief stands. You are the most reliable, conscientious, dedicated, and balanced man I know. You have never flaked on an obligation, never missed an appointment, never disappointed a friend.

And, ironically, these precise attributes make you an exemplary candidate for military duty. In an ideal world, you and men like you would be charged with our protection. But this isn't ideal and your decision is sealed, so I will stop harping on you and get to the point of this letter.

I miss you. I always have. For these past few years, I've been removed geographically and distant personally. I made my own dramatic departure in the hopes of attaining some sort of wisdom, enlightenment if you will. And to that end I've been partially successful, at least to the point where I'm taking the steps needed to stumble and then learn from those missteps.

This progress, however, came at a price. I felt I needed to step back from my loved ones to stop seeing myself through their eyes and start the self-examination anew. But I never intended this separation to be permanent and indeed relied upon the strength and resilience of my friendships to persevere.

I now realize these bonds cannot survive in a vacuum. So I seek to set things right, beginning with you. Chris, you are my brother by everything but blood. I will not waste another breath expressing reservations about your choice. It was yours to make, and you did so with good intentions.

So please let me pass along some truths revealed to me over these past few years. Know that:

1. New friendships are but tracings of the relationships formed in the forges of childhood. Although I must admit to a lack of effort, it has become obvious that no amount of ingratiation would generate a friend willing to forgive me for urinating on them. Nary a single taker.

2. Differences are more important than commonalities. As silly as this sounds, I've grown weary of agreeing with people. There was a certain novelty in moving to a place in which everyone thinks progressively. But I now find comfort in disagreement, and no one challenged me more than you, often without even knowing it.

3. A hero without focus is a hero nonetheless. This little quip is aimed at you, me and every other person out there attempting to be more than the sum of their parts. I know you joined up to prove your place in history, your worth to society. I have the same desire, albeit a different approach, and I'm working to find a genuine outlet for our efforts.

Take these findings with a grain of salt. I will likely discount them myself tomorrow. But know I mean what I say to you about you. Cut from the same cloth, we represent the last of a breed: best friends willing to die for one another and the world. Please don't exact that fortune prematurely.