“John Is My Heart” Essay Written By Frank Schaeffer for the Washington Post-Correct Attribution! 

Summary of eRumor:

Author John Schaeffer penned an essay titled “John is My Heart” for the Washington Post that describes how his son enlisting in the Marines connected Schaeffer to his country in a way that he was too “selfish and insular” to experience before.

The Truth:

Frank Schaeffer’s “John is My Heart” essay was published in the Washington Post op-ed section in the lead-up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002.

Frank Schaeffer’s essay was published under the headline, “My Heart is on the Line,” on November 26, 2002. As the essay was re-posted and re-circulated in the years that followed, the headline changed to “John is My Heart” at some point.

PBS Newshour also published the essay in 2002, and the show featured a video segment of Frank Schaeffer reading the essay on how his son enlisting in the Marines had changed him:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiigUAWivfQ[/embedyt]

In the essay, Frank Schaeffer explains that as a “Volvo-driving, higher education-worshipping north shore of Boston” resident, he didn’t understand what drew his son, John, to the Marines in 1999. Schaeffer also writes that before his son enlisted, he didn’t think about who was protecting him or his country:

Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was defending me. Now when I read of the war on terrorism or the coming conflict in Iraq, it cuts to my heart. When I see a picture of a member of our military who has been killed, I read his or her name very carefully. Sometimes I cry.

In “John is My Heart,” Frank Schaeffer goes on to explain that he struggled to tell the parents of other students graduating from the same private school as John that his son had decided to forgo college and enlist in the Marines:

Why were I and the other parents at my son’s private school so surprised by his choice? I feel shame because it took John’s joining the Marine Corps to make me take notice of who is defending me. I feel hope because my son is part of a future “greatest generation.” I also feel pride. As the clouds of war gather, at least I can look the men and women who defend us in the eye. My son is one of them. He is the best I have to offer. He is my heart.

Frank Schaeffer also wrote that before John enlisted in the Marines, he felt connected to his country in a way that he had not before:

My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish and insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local diner than to some of my oldest friends. She has two sons in the corps. When the guy who fixes my car asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in the Navy. At one time, the sons and daughters of the most powerful and educated were proud to serve their country.

Frank Schaeffer’s “My Heart is on the Line” or “John is My Heart” essay was widely shared in forwarded emails, discussion forums and social media posts in the decade and a half following its initial publication in November 2002. We can confirm that Schaeffer wrote the essay, and that it was published in the Washington Post.

John Is My Heart
This is a well written article about a father who put several of his kids through expensive colleges but one son wanted to be a Marine. Interesting observation by this dad.  See below.  A very interesting commentary that says a lot about our society.
By Frank Schaeffer of the Washington Post
Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was defending me. Now when I read of the war on terrorism or the coming conflict in Iraq, it cuts to my heart. When I see a picture of a member of our military who has been killed, I read his or her name very carefully. Sometimes I cry.
In 1999, when the barrel-chested Marine recruiter showed up in dress blues and bedazzled my son John, I did not stand in the way. John was headstrong, and he seemed to understand these stern, clean men with straight backs and flawless uniforms. I did not. I live in the Volvo-driving, higher education-worshiping North Shore of Boston. I write novels for a living. I have never served in the military.
It had been hard enough sending my two older children off to Georgetown and New York University. John’s enlisting was unexpected, so deeply un-
settling. I did not relish the prospect of answering the question, “So where is John going to college?” from the parents who were itching to tell me all about how their son or daughter was going to Harvard. At the private high school John attended, no other students were going into the military.
“But aren’t the Marines terribly Southern?” (Says a lot about openmind-
edness in the Northeast)  asked one perplexed mother while standing next to me at the brunch following graduation. “What a waste, he was such a good student,” said another parent. One parent (a professor at a nearby and rather famous university) spoke up at a school meeting and suggested that the school should ” carefully evaluate what went wrong.”
When John graduated from three months of boot camp on Parris Island, 3000 parents and friends were on the parade deck stands. We parents and our Marines not only were of many races but also were representative of many economic classes. Many were poor. Some arrived crammed in the backs of pickups, others by bus. John told me that a lot of parents could not afford the trip.
We in the audience were white and Native American. We were Hispanic, Arab, and African American, and Asian. We were former Marines wearing the scars of battle, or at least baseball caps emblazoned with battles’ names. We were Southern whites from Nashville and skinheads from New Jersey, black kids from Cleveland wearing ghetto rags and white ex-cons with ham-hock forearms defaced by jailhouse tattoos. We would not have been mistaken for the educated and well-heeled parents gathered on the lawns of John’s private school a half-year before.
After graduation one new Marine told John, “Before I was a Marine, if I had ever seen you on my block I would’ve probably killed you just because you were standing there.” This was a serious statement from one of John’s good friends, a black ex-gang member from Detroit who, as John said, “would die for me now, just like I’d die for him.”
My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish and insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local diner than to some of my oldest friends. She has two sons in the Corps. They are facing the same dangers as my boy. When the guy who fixes my car asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in the Navy.
Why were I and the other parents at my son’s private school so surprised by his choice? During World War II, the sons and daughters of the most powerful and educated families did their bit. If the idea of the immorality of the Vietnam War was the only reason those lucky enough to go to college dodged the draft, why did we not encourage our children to volunteer for military service once that war was done?
Have we wealthy and educated Americans all become pacifists? Is the world a safe place? Or have we just gotten used to having somebody else defend us? What is the future of our democracy when the sons and daughters of the janitors at our elite universities are far more likely to be put in harm’s way than are any of the students whose dorms their parents clean?
I feel shame because it took my son’s joining the Marine Corps to make me take notice of who is defending me. I feel hope because perhaps my son is part of a future “greatest generation”. As the storm clouds of war gather, at least I know that I can look the men and women in uniform in the eye. My son is one of them. He is the best I have to offer. He is my heart.
“Faith is not about everything turning out OK; Faith is about being OK no matter how things turn out.”