Well, sort of. Thirty years ago today I joined the US Army. Just went and did it. I didn’t mention a word of it to my parents until I went home that night. They were….concerned. My parents are two of the finest people I have ever known, but back then I was a naive but arrogant teen chafing to get away from everything I knew. I didn’t want them trying to talk me out of it, so I just went down to the recruiting station with my best friend and we joined up. We even turned down a guaranteed assignment to Hawaii and asked for Korea instead. We figured we’d be two poor slobs in Hawaii. We were already slobs, so the rest was probably not far from the truth. And as it turned out, my time in the Army is what made me the person I am today. I learned to think critically, to lead by example, to act decisively under stress, and most importantly, to understand that there’s a whole big world out there and we as a nation really need to get along with everyone else. I learned what the term “Ugly American” meant by witnessing the same. I also learned to appreciate the freedoms and civil rights we enjoy here by witnessing what can happen to citizens of other countries who do not enjoy the same freedoms and rights. My eight years on active duty were more valuable than all my education before or since. And while I don’t regret leaving the service twenty-some-odd years ago, it didn’t slip by my thoughts that had I stayed in, I could be a retired person today. 🙂