To Serve

Recently I had to write this for my school that I am beginning in the near future.  The Voice in my head instructed me that this will be fitting for our second to last entry before moving on with our/my Life.

Reasons Why I Serve My Country

The reasons why I serve my country basically come down to what the five year old version of me wanted to be when he grew up.  I wanted to be a fireman.  The basis of the thought behind this was to save and protect people, and not to just ride around in a big red truck.  I grew up in a family where the last period in which anyone served was WWII.  My grandmother told me about how guilty my grandfather felt about not being able to follow suit with his brother-in-laws serving in the Army.  He had been disqualified due to having rheumatic fever as a child.  There was nothing that really struck me while growing up that the military was my calling.  I just knew that I had great uncles that served, and a grandfather who was unable to.

Years later, a target of opportunity arose virtually out of nowhere.  What turned from a prank being played on my step-father from one of his friends, became a pivotal change in my life.  Someone had signed my step-father up for the Marines.  A packet of information was delivered, he laughed it off, and I picked it up.  It’s hard to describe the feeling now that it has been 23 years, but something shifted inside me.  I wanted this.  It was the perfect fit for me.  However, life has a funny way of shaping our destiny and my former spouse figured that our life would be much better if I were not serving in the Marines.  I compromised and left service in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in History.

Eventually the brief tributary stream I was on corrected its course back into the main river.  I was once again back in alignment with myself, but this time as an Army officer.  The Army did not turn out to be a good fit for my former spouse.  The death of my mother and the divorce from my wife in such a short time span did not work well with me either.  I found a new branch in the river as I continued my journey in the civilian world for a second time.  Once again I was drifting away from my true nature.  I am very fortunate that branches and tributaries can always find their way back to the true source of the flow.

I had the tremendous opportunity to instruct marksmanship to Marines serving in Security Forces.  I watched children in Afghanistan play with rocks for toys, having a blast, and thinking about the life of American children in comparison.  I played a minor role of a much larger picture with the Sons of Iraq.  There are so many things that I can look back on with a sense of pride and fulfillment.  However, after 23 years, I do not have a sense of things winding down.  I feel like I am just getting started.   I am just getting started.

Another shift occurred two and a half years ago in my life.  A profound shift in nurturing the development of mind, body, and spirit had commenced.  When you change the way you eat, then you will change the way you think.  You will change the way you feel.  My feelings for service were profoundly changed.  When I began to develop the best parts of myself I realized that my commitment to the Army intensified.  I began to see something else in me.  I became a better leader, and after six months of this shift, my senior leadership saw it as well.  I received a second command so far removed from the flag pole, and big Army oversight, that the level of responsibility to be the best, even more so increased.  Another by-product of becoming your best version is that everyone around you is affected by a positive work climate.  The shift in my life is still at work and propelling me forward.  There is no going back downward again.

Serving in the Army is not about the paycheck.  It is not for the action, thrills, or travel to exotic lands.  I serve my country to honor my family, and out of respect for the ones who have served in the past.  I serve the Army to create the most positive experience that Soldiers can possibly have, and point out the best parts of themselves while I’m doing it.  I serve the people of the United States because they deserve to have the best leaders in care of their sons and daughters.  Most of all though, I honor the five year old version of me, and I am a guardian of this nation for him.

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