updated 11/30/2004 1:00:43 PM ET 2004-11-30T18:00:43

Mayor Richard Daley’s 29-year-old son has enlisted in the Army and will soon report for duty in the airborne infantry.

“It’s been in the back of my mind for some time,” Patrick Daley told the Chicago Sun-Times in Tuesday’s editions. “I left West Point during my freshman year when I was 18 years old and always remembered their motto, ’Duty, Honor and Country.’ But I was so young and not really old enough to understand what it really meant. But I know now.”

Daley finished college at the University of Illinois and got a master’s degree in business from the University of Chicago in June. He could have pursued lucrative job offers, but said the Sept. 11 attacks played a role in his decision to enlist.

“Dad is very supportive and mom is doing just what mothers are supposed to do, worrying about her son,” he said.

The mayor said Tuesday that he never tried to talk his son out of the move. His only advice: Stand by your decision.

“I’m very proud of the decision he made,” he said. “He believes that (the military) is part of public service.”

Asked about his own feelings toward the war in Iraq, the Democratic mayor said: “You stand by the president; you stand by the men and women of the military.”

He’s starting out as an ordinary enlisted man.

“It’s a close bet that I may make a career out of the military, and it’s better to start out at the bottom,” he said.

Daley will report for duty after Christmas and could be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan within a year. “Think of it. It’s amazing. I get to serve my country,” he said.

The elder Daley, first elected mayor in 1989, and his wife also have two daughters. A second son, Kevin, died in 1981 at age 2 of complications related to spina bifida. The mayor’s late father, Richard J. Daley, was mayor for 21 years before his death in 1976.

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