If you knew anything about me, you'd know that I am the kind of person that doesn't care about money, fame or material things.
I was once told as a child, "If you are not on this planet to serve a purpose, then what are you doing here?"
I have lived by that ever since.
I admired my father, although I only got to visit him on weekend-ends and then later, only once a month. He was a WWII veteran and it had a profound effect on his life. As a matter of fact, on mine too.
We were a poor family and his marriage failed. Why? He had Post Traunatic Stress Syndrome, long before anyone knew what it was. He had many "nervous breakdowns". The first time it happened, they took him to the state hospital in Terrell, TX. Back then, they didn't know how to treat that illness. So, they gave him electro-shock therapy. In other words, they fried his brain. After that, he spent the rest of his life heavily medicated. As a result, he could only keep a minimum wage job. He tried his hardest and loved my sister and I with all of his heart. Unfortunately, the stress of trying to make do for us only caused him relapse after relapse. He didn't want to take his medication. He wanted his mind back. He could never understand that it was gone. So, he CONSTANTLY relived the war and told me about it. So, from the earliest age, I grew up KNOWING what sacrifice was and what it meant to give your all for your country.
When I entered high school, The FIRST thing I did was sign up for Army J.R.O.T.C. I was the TOP cadet and rose through the ranks quickly. By the time I graduated, I was the Cadet Battalion Commander of the BIGGEST public high school in the U.S., with the largest Cadet Battalion in the country. All of the Service Academies wanted me to be a cadet at their school.
I did not have the grades.
Maybe growing up in an institution, where you were just another nameless kid that was shuffled around had something to do with that?
Again, another tragic result of that war...
I was placed in Buckner Baptist Children's Home in 1974, at the age of nine. I was allowed to move home and live with my dad, in 1982, during my "Senior" year of high school. The first thing I did, upon moving home, was enlist in the Marines. I was just seventeen. My dad initially did not want to sign the enlistment papers, but relented quickly.
I graduated from Skyline High School, at the end May, 1983 (the only immediate family member to graduate at all) and was in boot camp three days later...
My father was a very poor man, financially. When I completed boot camp, he could not afford be there to see me during the "Pass and Review" of the graduation cerimony.
I flew home in civilian clothes...
The next morning, I had to report for duty at Naval Air Station, Dallas. As I put on my uniform, my father watched. I finally noticed that he was holding back tears of pride. At THAT very moment, I knew just how much it meant to him, how much he loved me and how proud he was of me.
I will NEVER forget that moment; EVER...
As I wanted to be a pilot, I had joined the Marine Corps Reserve. I attended E.T.S.U. for less than a semester. During this time, the U.S. had invaded Granada. I was unhappy with all of the liberal, weak-willed "college people" that were "bad mouthing" the country, the military and President Reagan. So, I left, without withdrawing, giving notice or anything else. I just left...
I went straight to the recruiter and put in a transfer to active duty.
I gave up my dream of being a pilot to be with my Marines.
In 1993, I was informed that because the military was downsizing, I could not be promoted to Staff Sergeant and that I would not be allowed to re-enlist. I was eligible, but there was not a "boat space" for me. So, my country, which I had served all of my life, "sent me packing" with a $20,00.00 severance check and an Honorable Discharge, for my ten years of service.
I did not adjusted to civilian life very well.
At first, I was bitter. After a time, I came to understand that I was really just serving my country. I was a "cold war veteran". I had accomplished my mission. The Soviet Union had collapsed. I wasn't needed anymore. That gave me something to cling to, even though my personal desires were other than that. However, there is NO room for individuals in the military. It is NOT about you; it is about your country.
I love MY Corps and although I am no longer on active duty, make NO mistake. I am MARINE, through and through. I wake up and go to bed everyday as a MARINE.
So, I FULL and WELL understand what service to one's country means. You might as well say that because of everything that my father and our family went through, that I have served since birth.
Maybe now that you have read all of this, you can better understand my values, my morales and my standards...
Maybe, now, you can understand ME.