RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
The father is a retired Army officer who served in Vietnam and has become a noted conservative critic of the war in Iraq. The son was a first lieutenant who is killed in that war on Mother's Day. Young Andrew Bacevich died in s suicide bombing north of Baghdad. The elder Andrew Bacevich teaches at Boston University.
Fred Thys of member station WBUR went to Walpole, Massachusetts, to talk to him and his family.
FRED THYS: Andrew Bacevich's sisters, Amy, Katie and Jennifer, meet in a coffee shop near their parent's home to talk about their brother. Jennifer Bacevich says they don't want his memory lost in the fact that he was the son of a prominent critic of the war.
Ms. JENNIFER BACEVICH (Sister of Andrew Bacevich, Jr.): I think a lot of people think that this is a story just about a professor that was against the war, that had a son that died in the war. And it's not, you know. More than anything, I think, we think our brother was just a - he was a fantastic human being, and a really…
Unidentified Woman: …and we will miss him. Yeah.
Ms. J. BACEVICH: We will miss him very much.
THYS: Bacevich graduated from Boston University in 2003. After working briefly for Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, he enlisted in the Army as a private, rising to first lieutenant. The older Andrew Bacevich agreed to talk about his son on the family's screened-in porch. Bacevich served in Vietnam in 1970 and 1971. At a time, he says, it was clear that that war was not going to be won.
Professor ANDREW BACEVICH (International Relations, Boston University): And my son goes to Iraq in 2006 when, at least it's apparent to me, that this war is not going to be won and is probably headed for some dismal conclusion. So our kinship is that we - he and I had a knack for picking the wrong war in which to serve.
THYS: Bacevich never shared these thoughts with his son because he didn't want to burden him with them. In his grief, he's asking himself what his obligations are as a citizen and as a father.
Prof. BACEVICH: I mean, one of the things that I've been really struggling with over the last several days is to try to understand my own responsibility for my son's death.
THYS: Bacevich says he thought his responsibility as a citizen was to give voice to his concerns about the war. His loss, he says, has made him question the lasting value of his criticism.
Prof. BACEVICH: What kind of democracy is this when the people do speak and the people's voice is unambiguous, but nothing happens.
THYS: Our voices, he says, are simply lost.
For NPR News, I'm Fred Thys.