“This We’ll Defend”
“Your left, your left, your left right!” sings the Army drill sergeant as he calls the cadence for the recruits marching along the road. As I marched along with the other 70 or so recruits I wondered how I got there and if I had made the right decision to join the military. What would it bring for me and would I make it a career for 20 years or even make it through the 8 weeks or so of basic training!
Should I Join The Military?
Well, more than 30 years have gone by and I look back at that timeframe in awe and wonder as it seems like another lifetime ago. I not only made it through the rigorous trials of basic training, I found myself in the military. Some may say the military is a harsh environment, and in some ways, they’d be correct. But what they may not understand is the military is not just a job where you learn how to blow things up or kill people, as the saying goes.
The military is a family and that’s the truth. It’s a way of life. It brings you all together with a common goal and becomes an “us” thing in many ways. The other people are your brothers and sisters in arms and you’d protect and die for each other if asked. Plus, it gives on pride to help support and defend your country and grow from a teenager first leaving home to a confident adult.
Yes, that’s what the military did for me and I am sure it did so for many others. It’s not for everyone by a longshot. If you cant deal with authority or rules, then, by all means, DO NOT join the military. I don’t care how desperate you are for a job; you won’t make it and you will wash out eventually.
Joining The Navy After High School
I joined the army to get away from home and to get college money. Plus I was tired of listening to my parents argue all the time and making me take sides. So, when the army recruiter came to the high school I signed up. My dad was furious, but I was over 17 and he couldn’t do anything about it. Later on, he did change his mind and was proud of me, but it took a while for that to happen.
I never really expected to make it a career, let alone do 32 years like I did! It just kind of happened and honestly, I do not regret it one bit. I didn’t fit in during high school and was a loner and didn’t have any real friends, plus I didn’t even date. But magically after I joined the Army it seemed I had found my place. I had many friends and I loved my job of being a journalist and writing articles for the base newspaper.
I grew up in the military and learned to like myself for a change. I was good at my job and I was respected. That felt good inside! For once in my life, I was doing something important and something that had meaning. Plus, the military was going to bring me even more than self-respect. It also would help strengthen my faith in God, as well as bring me the person I was destined to marry, spend more than 40 years with, and have two sons. It was fate.
Belonging To All Parts Of The World
I had many duty stations during the 32 years I spent in the military. The first was in Germany where I learned about other cultures and found out that everyone is pretty much the same. We all want a good life, a home, a place to live, a way to pay our bills and the security to feel safe doing those things. It was fun to meet people from other countries and something I would do many more times over the years in the military.
I got to be stationed in other places like Iceland, several US states and do short stints in other countries like Norway, Italy, Central America, and more. I learned to be thankful for what I had in the US as not all countries have the things we have. Even the poorest person in the US is rich compared to many people in other countries. That is something I wish all people these days who are so easily offended would get a chance to learn! It would make the world a better place.
Army And Faith
I also found my faith in God strengthened due to the camaraderie I learned in the military. A Christian coffeehouse group helped me make a recommitment to God and I made many close friends that I still yet have contact with. If not for raising my hand and swearing-in to join the Army, none of these things would have happened.
I have no idea where I would be today if I had not made that decision many years ago to join the Army. It helped me grow as a person in many ways. Being retired from the military brought me financial and medical security as well so that is a blessing, especially the way things are these days.
So, if anyone ever asks me if they should join the Army I will tell them that it was a good choice for me. It is not the life everyone could understand or agree with or adapt to. However, it helps to teach you respect, love of country and love for your fellow person. So, here’s to the flag, God and country. Long may they survive and thrive!