Happy Birthday Army - here's to us
Today is the United States Army’s 242d birthday. Coming to work, I dutifully changed the Facebook banner, threw out a shared post or two, liked my friend’s tweets about the event. Then I went about my day. It is also Flag Day – another post – find a beautiful picture of the flag. It’s pretty difficult to take a bad picture of an American flag. Then, halfway through the day, Betty gives me a hard time and assigns me to do a blog about the Army. So, okay, here is part of the story. Some of it might be true.
The Army is America’s first institution. There was an Army, specifically a sort-of-National Guard before there was an America. It was certainly an accepted institution when I grew up. I grew up in Waco, a place my father visited as a member of the Army band, during the Korean War. Growing up, my Uncle was in the Air Force but started with the Army, before the Air Force. My dad didn’t say much about the Army, dismissing it as a place to learn to play pool and get in trouble. I didn’t learn until later that Jefferies had been serving in the Army since the Seven Year’s War. I played Army as a kid, even when we were emulating John Wayne as a Marine. One of my first favorite television shows was Rat Patrol. I tried to convince my dad to buy a Jeep. It was as a teen that I decided I wanted to join the Air Force and fly. It was as a teen that I learned I would never fly for the Air Force since my eyes were bad. I moved on. By and large I made lots of very bad choices.
But I didn’t move far enough. My Mom worked for the local VA hospital and pushed me towards military service. When a local National Guardsmen she worked with offered me a helicopter ride I leapt at the chance and was soon sold. It was in basic training at Fort Knox that I really began to make the leap to adulthood. After a couple of years in the Guard the time was right to join the Army. I loved it and hated it. I was restrained by it and freed by it. As I was getting out and trying to convince my son to join he said “Dad, you were wet, cold, and mad for twenty years, no thanks.” That could be true. But, it fed and clothed me, and them, and provides for me today, physically and spiritually. I’m not in the Army but it is sure in me.
It can be a lot more fun to be out of the Army than in it. But that’s only because you have truly learned the value of not being in it. You gain an appreciation for those that did and still are. Tonight, men and women are deployed to more than 150 countries. Many of them are without their families or and creature comforts. All of them are in some kind of harm’s way. Too many of them are wet and cold and mad. Some will never come home. And some that do will never be able to enjoy the benefits I have. They have lots of reasons for joining, staying, or leaving. But they all did it and they all serve. Happy birthday and thank you for every single one. Soldiers really get after it.