I grew up in the shadow of World War II, with the constant hassle of rationing stamps and the humbling specters of gold star banners displayed in the windows of houses. My childhood heroes were John Wayne, Ronald, Reagan, Alan Ladd, and anyone else in a uniform – and my Uncle Les, who was a Navy CB and helped build the runway on Tinyan Island from which the Enola Gay took off for her historic trip to Hiroshima.
Now, 70 years later, after the treason of Jane Fonda and the ineptness of Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara, the uniform of the United States Military is more likely to be spat on that saluted. High schools are even trying to ban military recruiters from participating in job fairs on their campuses.
But a military career can be a rewarding experience. You learn a lot in the Army. You learn a bunch of big words like harass and bivouac and perimeter and latrine. And you learn discipline – not the word discipline but the actual commodity. At least you learn to take orders, which is what they mean when they say discipline in the Army.
But you do learn self-control. In fact, in the Army, you have to learn it or you get killed – not by the enemy but by your drill sergeant. Of course, self-control is not necessarily a requisite when you're off base on a three day pass, but even there it helps.
You learn a lot of other things in the Army, like how to take weapons apart and put them back together again – a skill that will come in handy if you decide to become a gun smith after you're mustered out.
The Army has a whole lot of educational films that teach you things like how to brush your teeth and what to do in an atomic attack and how to avoid getting trench foot or VD. Most of the films have been around for awhile, but some of the newer ones are in color.
One thing you learn in the Army is how to stand in line. You stand in line to eat, you stand in line to get paid, and you stand in line to get needles stuck in your arm. The average soldier spends 42.6 % of his time standing in line. Standing in line is a soldier's main skill – next to cussing and smoking.
You also learn how to get along with other people. Being jammed into a barracks with fifty other guys from fifty other States and with fifty different weird idiosyncrasies requires that you learn to get along with others – fast. This is a skill that will be invaluable if you are ever sent to prison.
And you learn to appreciate the little things in life – like your pay, your privacy, and the respect you get from NCOs. In short, a man can learn a great deal from being in the Army.
Or so they tell me. But what do I know? I was in the Marine Corps.