I was the student that you hated in high school. I can take no credit for it, but God gave me a mind that learns quickly and remembers. I would do my homework the period before it was due. I would pay attention in class, review my notes the night before a test – and make A’s.
I’m giving my little brother his first salute during his commissioning ceremony.
Then I got to college. Because of my cognitive advantages, I never developed study habits. I was lazy. I relied on my natural ability and did not work to develop those strengths. In 4 years at Murray State University, I dropped 14 classes, had a 2.3 GPA, and lacked a full year to graduate. I had no clue of what I wanted to do or be. My parents were disappointed in me. I was actually a disappointment to myself in every aspect of my life.
I remember waking up one morning having fallen asleep on my couch. The TV was on. I started to reflect on who I had become. I had no direction. The only thing that I had clarity about was that I was a shell of who I knew that I should be. Then an Army Reserve commercial came on TV. I began thinking of all of the men in my life that I held the utmost respect for.
I thought about my dad. My dad is a man on impeccable integrity. He has rock-solid character oozing out of his pores. He lives his life based on principles. He is a business owner. I provider for his family. I lover of his wife. An A+ father for his six children. He was in the Army for 7 years. I could see the discipline in his life and began to make a connection.
My dad, brothers, and I giving the “eyebrow.”
I thought of my grandfathers. Both served in the Army in World War II. My Granddad Barron was one of the first people to work in the Pentagon when it was just a Line (only one wing had been built.) My other grandfather was responsible for diverting many of the German forces away from the D-Day invasion. He then rushed on Omaha Beach. These are men of courage, character, discipline, and integrity.
As I thought through all these men who I wished I was like, their military background was a common theme. I need a kick in the rear end. I went to visit the recruiters looking for the biggest boot.
Note: My story takes a serious USMC turn here. My apologies for my ingrained biases.
In my town, all the recruiting offices were in the same strip mall. I started with the Air Force. After speaking with the recruiter for 30 minutes, it was clear that they were not what I was looking for. I skipped the Navy because I was not going to wear those uniforms. When I got to the Army office, they shared with me all the benefits of being a soldier: become a man, learn discipline, serve your country. They promised me a sizable signing bonus, to repay college loans (that I didn’t have), etc. I was impressed and interested.
Lastly, I walked into the Marine office. I recapped for Sgt. Tate my previous 3 hours. I shared with him how I was not interested in the Air Force. I relayed to him all the things the Army would give me. I asked him, “What does the Marine Corps have to offer me?” He then said the words that would change my life. He answered, “I don’t have anything for you, son. I wonder if you have the metal to be in my Marine Corps.” I had found my boot, and I have never been the same.
Today is Veteran’s Day. Today is the day that we remember and honor all the men and women who sacrificed. They sacrificed years. Some sacrifices limbs. Many sacrificed their lives – for you and me. We understand freedoms not known by most throughout history. My brother, who is a Marine Aviator, is this day protecting the freedoms of Americans to burn the flag or hate our country. That is sacrifice.
Capt. “Little Bro”
So on this Veterans’s Day, I honor all the men and women who made my life possible. I have the privilege of loving my wife and family in freedom. I have the right to worship my God. I have the liberty to work hard and find success. On this day, I honor my dad, grandfathers, and my little brother.
Sleep well America. Your best men and women are keeping you safe!
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