If you are of a certain age, your life was ordered by the draft. If you are younger — the vast majority of those reading this are — or a woman, you have no idea what that means. That is not intended to be judgmental.
If you were of that age and avoided the draft dishonorably — as many did (talking to you Dick Cheney, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, you pussies) — then you are a hopeless cur and will wear that stain for the rest of your miserable life.
If you served and in that service were called to command America’s sons, then you have been honored beyond all comprehension.
In my early twenties having graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (America’s oldest state military college and the alma mater of General of the Armies George C Marshall) with a degree in civil engineering I was commissioned into the Corps of Engineers and assigned as a combat engineer.
The US Army is essentially divided between the combat engineers (who must also fight as infantry) and those who envy the combat engineers. MacArthur, Rob’t E Lee — all engineers.
I was also blessed by the fact that soldiering was the family business.
There is no more “coming of age” experience than being assigned a platoon of fifty men every one of whom has been in the Army longer than you have.
But some patient platoon sergeant takes you under his wing and slowly fashions you into a competent platoon leader and, eventually, allows you to actually be the platoon leader.
You learn that in this world one does not receive power; one takes power. You take control of that platoon and your platoon sergeant laughs.
You will become comfortable leading men, you will become a company Executive Officer, and then a Company Commander (akin to being a Chinese feudal warlord and the best job in the Army) and command will sit easy on your shoulders and you will become comfortable holding the lives of the sons of America’s mothers in your hands, giving orders that have dangerous consequences if wrong or done poorly, and meting out justice within the confines of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
When you finish that tour of duty, there will be no trial in business or life that will intimidate you. If you decide to become an entrepreneur, as I did, you will be equal to the task. You were forged in a hot furnace and you are hardened to the realities of life.
It was an honor to serve our nation in the Army and to learn to command soldiers in difficult situations. Thank you, America’s mothers. Thank you, America. And, if in the days ahead, you need a seasoned hand to smote bad people, you know where to reach me.
God bless our veterans!