November 14

14 11 2013

It’s one of those significant dates that will always stick out in my mind. It is not because of a world-shattering event that happened on that day; it is a personal event that changed my world. The date takes me on a journey of nostalgia to a time when I was 17 years old. I experience again the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of that day. It is the day I entered the Armed Forces as a sailor.

I recall the farewell to  my girlfriend in the pre-dawn hours at the Greyhound Bus Station in Youngstown, Ohio. I even recall her 1968 Impala. I sat alone on the trip to Cleveland and then to Great Lakes Naval Training Center with a bunch of  hippie looking guys. I recall the painted bootprints on the pavement as we were commanded to stand at attention for the very first time. The night of November 14th, 1972 was spent listening to the marching sounds of a guard making rounds past my bunk. I was in the United States Navy for 4 years. November 14th would  be my highly anticipated day of getting out!

I joined before I was 18 in order to avoid the draft; I turned 18 in my third week of boot camp. I was on my own for the first time in my life; letters from home were like messages from heaven. I was taught character, respect, and honor, even before leaving Great Lakes. I was no hero, no teen role model, and no brave young man. I was lonely, afraid, and quite intimidated; but I liked the direction I was going, I was becoming a man.

For those who are contemplating a stint in the Armed Forces, it will change your life.  To this day, 41 years later, it is my privilege to wear the title, “Veteran”

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