“Thank you for your service.” Whenever I see someone in uniform, just as you do, we say “Thank you for your service” to them. The usual response is a quiet smile from the men and women in military service to our country. What we mean by that is more than five words of sentiment. It’s not just reserved for those who served in world wars, which goes without saying too often. Our appreciation is extended to today’s newest service personnel, who enter military training willingly.
We truly appreciate their sacrifice of time (and often youthful days of carefree living) to train their minds and bodies to top form, to learn the details about the kinds of equipment their branch relies on—airplanes, helicopters, tanks, engines, submarines, and ships. Today in addition to surviving maximum unpleasant environmental and physical challenges, recruits are now expected to be proficient in technology, computers, and to master machinery that didn’t even exist 10 years ago.
We think of standard boot camp they go through as eight weeks of physical transformation but it also includes mental transformation, respecting those in charge, discipline as they’ve never before experienced it, and allegiance to higher rank without any question or challenge. Drill instructors have 56 days to turn individuals’ perspectives around full circle.
Thanks to The Eagle for featuring profiles on our area service personnel and the stories of where they served, we feel we know a bit more about the military careers many of our loved ones here had in their early days. Local attorney and author Bill Youngkin began telling those stories, as a recent story explained, because when he’d returned home from Vietnam, there was no one gathered at the airport to welcome him home, nor did they (all returning service personnel are to return in military uniform) even stop to say, “thank you.”
Imagine the feeling of being thousands of miles away in battle conditions you’ve done everything to forget, part of service to your country…and it’s like no one cared. Youngkin reflected on his personal experience, and ever since, he’s been giving local veterans the chance to have their stories heard. Next time you hear someone say, “What can one person do?” then think of Bill as one inspiration. All across Bryan-College Station, we are blessed with people who take the initiative and time to make a difference. One action leads to others and suddenly a snowball turns into an avalanche of goodness.
Fortunately today, there are not the same wartime conditions as those our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents faced for long stretches of time. Even so today, young people exiting high school or those who turn 18 are making the choice to enter military service. Once they leave town for boot camp, most of us don’t have any concept of a period of trial and testing they encounter in order to
Because we’re not in boot camp, we don’t see what a typical new recruit goes through to complete basic training. Marines go to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp; their final test is a 54-hour experience called the Crucible. Air Force basic training is at one location, Lackland AFB (also called Joint Base San Antonio) in San Antonio, Texas. Army basic training takes place at Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma will take the “newbie” out of any “kid.”
Navy basic training is held only at Great Lakes, Illinois (north of Chicago) and is a legendary turning point in most young lives. Coast Guard boot camp is eight weeks of rigor at Cape May, New Jersey. Think of the young men and women who leave home, hometown, and the way of life they’ve known—to be with complete strangers and undergo radical preparations and physical challenges that are the hardest of their lifetimes.
Each of these new recruits takes an oath upon enlistment into military service. A commissioned officer administers the following oath:
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
The oath is administered to the recruits in front of a U.S. flag. And on this Veterans Day, as we thank and identify all who have devoted a portion of their lives to military service, today there are 1,000 flags on the Bryan Rotary Field of Valor at Veterans Park.
This project serves to “honor veterans and first responders for their selfless service, and to educate students through teacher mini-grants and scholarships.” You can visit Bryan Rotary’s web site or Facebook question if you’d like to honor a veteran with a flag next year for a $50 donation.
It’s the perfect gift for the person who has everything and Christmas is just around the corner!
No, we cannot be in boot camp with our young people whom we’ve watched grow up across the street. No, we cannot know what it’s like to be sent thousands of miles away from home, traveling with virtual strangers, some of whom will become their lifetime friends, as together they learn about military strategy, self-defense, and the history of war….all to be successful in their future.
Please join me in expressing thanks to all service personnel, whether it’s a comment left here on Facebook, or when you see someone in uniform, walk up to them and say, “Thank you for your service.” It will help them undoubtedly more than words can say. And, Happy Veterans Day!