Early the next morning, we realized just how the Army would begin turning civilians into soldiers. As we stepped off the train in Trenton to board the awaiting buses, about a half a dozen screaming drill sergeants swarmed around us, using profanity laced insults to get us on the bus. About a half hour later, driving through the gate at the sprawling training center, we would embark on three days of running, waiting, testing, medical checks, and paperwork while wearing our same civilian clothes in the reception station, before finally being issued military issue GI clothes and boxing of our now retired ones for shipment back home. Now in fatigue green, the icing on the cake was our first military haircut which now showed us to be buck privates in America's large fighting force. Eight weeks later, we would emerge as having changed significantly, understanding the meaning of the orders issued and realizing that fighting the system would only adversely impact us.
Less than a year later, I had also completed Advanced Individual Training as a combat engineer at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia and proudly put on the gold bars of a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. From that following first overseas assignment I would go on to complete eight years of active service, ending my time as a Major and, as I look back, I have learned one very important thing and many other smaller ones. What is it, you might ask?
It is this. Each of us has within us the strength to undertake seemingly impossible tasks if we will ourselves to do it and when we do so, we learn just how strong we can be with the right attitude. Plus, it is important for each of us to know that, as proud Americans, we all have a duty to provide our part to keep this nation strong and free. Military service is just one of the ways to do that, but a most important one, and the discipline, esprit and pride it brings is something I will share for all of my life. I only wish that our young folks today had that same opportunity foisted upon them, for I think it would not only better prepare them to be good citizens, but it would involve them with their own sacrifice for the privilege they, like we, have to live in the wonderful United States of America where freedom and faith under God must prevail. God bless you all and God bless these United States of America.