The first time I donned a military uniform of any kind was in 1973, when I joined the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Torrejon High School, Torrejon Air Base, Spain. My father was as surprised as anyone when I joined; I was a skinny, bookish, and shy 14-year old, and he probably didn’t think I had the interest in or passion for military life.
To tell the truth, I don’t remember why I did it. I was a loner and preferred it that way, so I wasn’t a “joiner.” I guess my dad inspired me more than I realized and, looking back on it, it was a decision that changed my life.
Even so, my life path was not altered as dramatically as those whose lives were lost in service to their country, and that is who we honor on Memorial Day. Most veterans have a story about someone who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “gave the last full measure of their devotion” while wearing the uniform of the United States armed forces, and I have one that is probably not well known to the general public.