Today is the 34th anniversary of my graduation from Great Lakes Naval Training Center. I was in the 13th Battalion and we graduated in at 1300 hours on the 13th of October in 1972. I was a draftee who joined the United States Navy rather than take my chances in the jungles of Vietnam. I entered as a Hospital Recruit or E-1. There is only one thing lower than a recruit we were told in boot camp and that was whale dung and that is on the bottom of the ocean. Those times were formative in my journey. I chose to serve as a Hospital Corpsman because then as now I believed in the sanctity of all life. I was against the Vietnam War as I oppose the current misadventure in Iraq, but since my country called, I served. I’m proud of my record of service and I salute others of my generation and those of other generations who have chosen to serve as well.
I think all soldiers and sailors abhor war. It is only the politicians and the slackers who are war’s cheerleaders. They thump their chests and give speeches at great distance from recruiting stations and nowhere near harm’s way. Yesterday I attended the wake of one of my childhood friends. We were in Boy Scouts together. He made Eagle Scout. I left as a Life Scout. I talked to his brothers at the funeral home yesterday. We were all veterans. Veterans of the Boys Scouts and the Armed Forces of the United States of America. We grew up in the shadow of the Berlin Crisis and the War in Vietnam. Military service was something that all young men contemplated back then. It was either conscription or enlistment. There were some rich kids, children of congressmen and athletes who avoided military service, but most young men got to serve in one capacity or other. John and I both enlisted although in different branches of the military. He served in Vietnam, I served stateside. The older I get the more I think back to those days and what they mean to me today. In memory of John and all the veterans and victims of all wars I dedicate this Youtube video of Barry White and the Love Unlimited Orchestra. It’s one of my favorites and it was produced in 1974. I can recall listening to it while on active duty and in the years after my release. I’ve always liked the melody. It is a such a rich piece and it evokes memories of my active military service.