[July 28, 2023] As a young man, I had no plans to join the Army. Oh, there were plenty of opportunities to join up. Folks in my family circle encouraged me to join. Enticements to join also came from my teachers, coaches, storeowners in my town, and my friends’ parents; this was common. Despite no plans, I did join and spent 14,543 days in the Army, just a couple of months shy of 40 years.
I joined as a Private, the lowest rank and probably not a great idea then. I retired as a General, specifically a Brigadier, which was better pay and authority. I learned all of the Army’s seven values, with Honor being its core value. I did my best to live those values every day. I served 14,543 days, all with honor and a clear conscience. I’m far from perfect, and I made many mistakes, but nothing I did was dishonest, illegal, or immoral. I never skirted my duties, attended all required training, and never missed a day of duty.
It was August when I joined, Louisiana’s hottest and most humid time of year. That is the month I attended boot camp. I was out of shape physically, unprepared mentally, and without any emotional support from friends or family because I asked for none. I was going to do this on my terms, without help. I’m told that I can be hard-headed, and this is an example.
I joined the Army after a long time thinking about the pros and cons for me. Unfortunately, like so many young men, I was grossly ignorant about what would happen to us recruits, and we had zero control over our lives for the first several weeks at boot camp. Yeah, we all were a bunch of wimps, and that was about to change.
14,543 days of a roller coaster career; peaceful and tedious garrison work, adventures and fear on the battlefield, living overseas and at home in the States, attending formal training and other military educational events, traveling to some of the most dangerous and nastiest places on Earth and seeing some of the most beautiful, and attending the memorials and funerals of many Soldiers.
Luckily, I had no serious injuries or illnesses during those days. The Army, for me, had its ups and downs, despite the fact I did not like people bossing me around, especially idiots telling me what to do. And yet I was strongly attracted to it. In the end, I learned that it was the brotherhood that kept me alive and why I stayed in the Army.
What did I get out of the Army, those 14,543 days? Was it worth my time, and with my many sacrifices, voluntary sacrifices? Did making the rank of General justify my hard work?
These are all the wrong questions.
My point is that being in the Army is not about me. It’s about the Army and the Soldiers in it. Did those members of the Army benefit from my actions? While I cannot answer those questions because I am biased, I will go out on a limb and say it was worth it.
Nuff said. Move on.
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