“I Have Some Wonderful News…”
by Mark Chmiel
I recently received the following letter from Robert MacArthur, who studied with me in fall 2005 at Saint Louis University…
Hello! I hope this letter finds you well. I have some wonderful news to share with you! After many months of waiting I finally found out that my application for conscientious objection was approved and I am now honorably discharged from the military!!
It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks as I was given about a week to get my belongings together, out process from the military and secure a job in the civilian world. Luckily….***so, so lucky*** I was hired on full-time at a dental office I was already working at on Saturdays.
It’s only been a few weeks but each day I experience this sense of inner peace of my conscience and a form of freedom that are difficult to articulate. There’s a small part of me that feels like this is all a dream or I’m on vacation and I’m going to wake up. I guess it’s understandable to have these thoughts/feelings given that I was in for 13 years. Much like the inmates in the movie Shawshank Redemption, I have been institutionalized and am now understanding the effects.
In regards to the near future, I will be staying up here in Alaska working in the civilian sector. I really enjoy my new job as it allows me to work with patients from all walks of life and all ranges of socioeconomic backgrounds. From homeless patients to blue- collar workers to Native Alaskans who live out in the “bush,” my patients are a beautiful and wide array of the human family.
In closing, I want to say thank you so, so much for your time and assistance with your heartfelt letter of support and for offering to be a witness over the phone. Your support helped get me where I am today and I am forever grateful. You helped guide me as a young college student and now in middle age, you continue to help me along my life path. I only wish I could do something as meaningful and impacting for you in return. Know that I admire you greatly, think of you often, and am forever grateful for your help with this milestone in my life.
With Love and Utmost Respect,
PS – Matthew and Patrick came up last summer and we had a wonderful time. If you ever want to come up and see the beauty of Alaska, please let me know.