I boarded a plane in Syracuse, NY bound for Newark, NJ. Seated a few rows in front of me was Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, instantly recognizable in his red beret and Guardian Angels T-shirt (yes, he wore them on the plane). After a short flight to Newark, I boarded a bus to Fort Dix, NJ. Within the next 24 hours, I would lose my civilian clothes, my first name, and most of my hair. And so began Army basic training and my career in the US military.
In the following weeks, I would find myself wondering why I chose to enlist in the military after graduating from college, when most of my peers were starting their civilian careers. Their big worries consisted of stuff like trying to decide whether to buy a Camaro or a Firebird. Or an (UGH!) Pontiac Fiero. I cursed my decision to enlist on more than one occasion, but in the long run, I'm glad I served. In fact, I can't imagine not having been in the military. I didn't join becuase I was poor. I didn't get duped or brainwashed. It was just something I had to do. I guess it's just the way I'm put together. Maybe it was the way I was raised. I can't really explain it. It just is what it is. I can't speak for everyone who has been in the military, but I'm sure I'm not alone in how I feel about it.