For those in the know this isn’t new news. However, very few folks know about it (although I don’t know how my putting it here matters as very few folks read this anyway) so I thought I’d detail a little bit here.
Over the past few years I’ve begun to seriously contemplate my ‘role’ here on mother earth. It’s the sort of soul searching I understand comes naturally to those who hit a certain age (of which I can now count myself among.) It’s resulted in my change of careers (a move that has done wonders for stress, joy and friendships) and, I suppose, in many ways is responsible for my heightened love for endurance sports.
About three months ago I was walking in the student union at Carolina and they had a display there. I don’t remember what they called it (the least important aspect of the display) but it was an entire interior wall of the building with a photo and short bio of every US citizen who gave the ultimate sacrifice during Opeartion Iraqi Freedom. I spent a good hour going along that wall and reading the various bios and gazing at the various faces.
Two things struck me.
One. I live in the greatest country in the world. A country that stands for democracy, for friendship, for justice and, most of all, for freedom. Yes, we aren’t perfect, and, yes we can stand room for improvement, but there is no other country in this world that offers the benefits, the freedoms and the hopes that we get here in the United States of America.
Two. These people believed in that. Believed in it enough to give of themselves like no other. And no, I”m not talking about their deaths. Their deaths go far beyond anything that words can describe. I’m talking about there service. They and thousands of others stepped up and said, “No matter what. I am an American Soldier. I will fight for all Americans regardless of their respect for me. I will stand in the line of fire and do everything I possibly can to see the Way of Freedom and Hope prevail.”
Those faces made me think about all of the other faces that weren’t on that wall. The one’s who didn’t die but were still out their fighting for what we at home all too often take for granted.
I talked to my wife about it a good long while. We discussed the issues, she was scared (understandbly so) and we were both nervous. But when it came down to it, she looked me square in the eyes and said, “I can’t be a hypocrite and say you can’t go when others have died to preserve what I love.”
So for the last few months the talks have continued and yesterday they took the biggest step toward reality. I took the ASVAB (military entrance exam.) My results were exemplary as I maxed the test out.
Next comes the physical, which should not be an issue even at my ripe old age.
And come August, I will be a member of the United States Army Reserve as a Drill Sergeant. I will train the men and women who will be serving our future. I will have a hand in guiding the leadership of tomorrow. And I will once more return to the identity of United States solider.
I am an Army of One.