February 15th marks the fortieth anniversary of the day I reported to US Navy boot camp and began the greatest adventure of my life. Forty years: where does time go?
In twenty-seven years of service, I experienced moments of sheer terror, unfathomable joy, and gut wrenching grief. There were many more happy moments than sad, thousands more great memories than bad, and friendships made in shared hardship that bind soul to soul forever and ever.
I am honored to have experienced the camaraderie of Sailors whose lives belonged to blank faces sitting in a five-sided office building thousands of miles away; the love of family who gave me their complete support; the leadership of men who knew how to lead by example.
I give thanks that my safe space was a steel vessel maintained by Sailors just like me, and aircraft maintained by Sailors just like me.
I give thanks that the Navy’s halls of learning echoed with the voices of Sailors learning skills that carried America onward and upward rather than against herself.
I give thanks that the nation I served took all comers – black, white, yellow, brown, and red – and sent them to sea trained and ready to work together as a Team rather than fight against one another.
The Navy makes it difficult to fail. Every Sailor is provided the tools to pick up and lead when the chips are falling all around. When Sailors look at each other, they see Sailors. When Sailors see another Sailor in need, they pick him up and carry him until he can carry himself again. When a Sailor finds himself and his shipmates without a leader, he assumes command and leads.
While America fights a civil war between the Left and the Right, a war between
dependence and independence, Sailors man the rails and serve as America’s ambassadors to the world. Sailors are the face of this great nation.
Every ship and every squadron is a microcosm of society. It’s hard to believe that America’s best can be represented by so few, the United States Navy Sailor.
My heart bursts with joy and pride that America honored me with the opportunity to serve in the United States Navy. I had a grand career. If she called, I would gladly serve her again.
I pity the man who hasn’t served; he can’t but take Freedom for granted.