Today is an anniversary for me of sorts! It was fifty-seven years ago today that I enlisted in the US Air Force and traveled by air (the first time ever) to Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas for ten weeks of basic training. I was 17 years old and had graduated from high school just a month before.
In those days the “draft” was in effect. Every young male upon reaching 18 years of age (who was not a farmer or a college student) was likely to be drafted into the army. Wherever I went at the age of 17 to seek a job the response was always the same “come back after your military obligation.” I don’t think those employers I contacted really wanted a 17-year-old anyway, especially one who didn’t have a car to travel to and from work. There was but one thing to do—enlist and get it over with.
I knew nothing about the military, nothing about the Air Force. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t know much about anything! I soon found out about the Air Force and what I found out, I didn’t like very much.
Fourteen weeks later, however, I decided that I did have some choice in the matter of how I would serve out my military commitment. The choice is always ours! That choice changed my time in the Air Force and changed the whole path of my life. I chose to become what was then called a Chaplain Services Specialist (in brief, a Chaplain Assistant).
One of the Ghosts of Christmas past in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, replies to Scrooge’s question: “You are fettered,” Scrooge says, “Tell me why? “I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” Our choices make all the difference and the choice is always ours.
|"Yesterday, when I was young"--Mug Shot|