At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns fell silent on the Western Front. The armistice ending The War to End All Wars went into effect. Thus was born Armistice Day which was celebrated up until World War Two proved war was alive and well. After World War Two, Armistice Day became a day to honor veterans of all branches and all conflicts, and the name was changed to Veterans’ Day. This day out of the year we celebrate our surviving veterans. Over the years, people have begun to celebrate the living and the dead on Veterans’ Day, but those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom are more properly honored on Memorial Day. It doesn’t really matter as long as honor is given to these brave men and women.
I live with a lot of regrets. I’ve made many poor choices in my life, but one of the ones that hurts me the most is that I never put on a uniform and joined the military. Many of the men in my family served with honor and distinction. I regret I have not joined their numbers. When I was in high school I had a dream of attending the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. I had the required grades and my SAT score was excellent, but what is enough to get one into a regular college is not good enough for the Naval Academy.
To get into the Academy, you have to be appointed. I didn’t understand politics enough at the time to know what to do in order to get an appointment from a congressman or senator. So I didn’t get into the Naval Academy and my senior year stayed on its downward trajectory.
I was aimless after graduation. I enrolled at a local community college, but it was like high school all over again. At the time though, I was working at Advance Auto Parts with a guy named Moose. Of course that wasn’t his given name, but it’s all anyone ever called him. Moose had been in the Marine Corps and he had stories galore. He didn’t want to get out when he did but he was injured and had no choice. Moose convinced me I should enlist in the Marine Corps. I talked to a recruiter and took the ASVAB. My score caused the recruiters eyes to light up. It looked like I was on my way to enlistment. Before I could join though, I had to attend MEPS, which was the Medical Examination and Processing Station. Things went wrong there.
See, when I was near the end of my tenth grade year, I was in a car wreck that put a jeep bumper made of wood deep into my left thigh. The injury got infected and swelled up into a huge hemotoma that had to be cut out. I didn’t affect my daily life much, but I had a divot on my left thigh that was about a centimeter deep. It was fine as long as I left it alone, but if I touched it wrong, pain would shoot through my leg and I’d almost vomit.
Well, guess what the examiner at Fort Jackson did as soon as he saw the scar? Yep, he stuck his finger right in the middle of it. I crumpled and he asked me if it hurt. I assured him it did. He said I would have to get it fixed before I could enlist because they couldn’t have a marine with a built in torture spot on his body. I didn’t know how to get it fixed and I was too stupid to ask, so that was the end of my shot at enlistment. Had I gone in, I probably would have fought in Operation Desert Storm.
So, I never got to wear the uniform. I regret it every time I see our soldiers on the news or see an enlistment ad on TV. Still, I am quick to thank all those who did join and have served so faithfully all these years and to them I say Happy Veterans’ Day!
Love y’all and keep those feet clean.