2018-01-10 / Opinion

IN MY OPINION

A simple “You Are welcome”
BY RON HOUSTON,
Lexington

You may have noticed that my picture for this adventure has me wearing a hat. This particular rooftop adornment was a requested gift from my oldest son for Christmas of 2016. I have wanted a ball cap to represent the branch of service that I belonged. It only took forty-five years since I was released from active duty to again wear the eagle, anchor and world. At the time of my release the Viet Nam war was still in progress and representing the military out in the general public wasn’t universally appreciated. In fact, for the thirty years after my leaving active duty the response for my service was ambivalent at best. I am positive that I was discriminated against in several job interviews for being a former Marine. This changed after 911. I can truly say that I was not prepared.

After I started wearing the cap, people were coming up to me and acknowledging my involvement in the military. I was greeted with “Thank you for your service” when walking down the sidewalk, entering a store or getting in an elevator. I was gobsmacked. The first couple of times, I had no idea who or what they were talking about. You may liken my response to a person who looks up and around the sky when someone says “duck”. A proverbial deer in the headlights.

I am rarely at a loss for words. I developed a response after a short while. “Glad to do it” evolved into “Best job I ever had” along with a brief “You’re Welcome.” Several people who greeted me were veterans (from World War II and everything up to now) and we would exchange pleasantries about our time in service. Others would preface their thanks with explanations why they had not served but appreciated that someone had. All this happening in the last year has definitely got me thinking. Sometimes we strive for “stuff” and sometimes “stuff” is thrust upon us.

I did not enlist to serve in a war that I considered ill-conceived and basically immoral. I did not choose to put myself in harm’s way or to harm another person. These choices were not mine. I was drafted. As fate would have it, I was drafted into the United States Marine Corps. To paraphrase Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle), “GOLLEE.” I’m not really sure what I expected when I got off of the airplane in San Diego, but what I found was a whole lot of other like-minded people sharing a similar circumstance. The general will was to do the best job possible with a minimal amount of grief. This included officers, staff and enlisted. There were a few exceptions, but most were courteous, genteel and empathetic. It was truly the best job I’ve ever had.

Those of you who know me would never consider me a warrior. And by no means could I be considered a “Hero.” You were allowed to perform to best of your ability without overwrought competition because the goal was a common goal. I made a lot of friends and fond remembrances. Although the term “cannon fodder” was bandied about, it was obvious that a lot of care and consideration went into the training, considering what the job objectives were. And yes, the pay was terrible.

It was and is a great example of how great America can be. I enjoyed and have a fondness for the time I spent in service to this country. I simply wish to thank you all for the opportunity to serve.

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