I rarely think of myself as an honoree on Veteran's day, but I got an e-mail from my company's VP of Diversity this morning thanking me for my service. At the time, it felt more like servitude--1969-1972 were not tranquil years, and as a young man I would have preferred to have been growing my hair long and hanging out in coffee houses. And had I not flunked out of college in 1969 I probably would have been.
As it was, I was in the Army and hating it. For the life of me, as I look back, I can't figure out why. I was going to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and after that I spent an exciting tour in Ethiopia, followed up by a stint in Washington DC where I met my wife. I had the time of my life and met some of the most interesting people I have ever known. (When there is an active draft going on, the military ends up with the entire spectrum, including the ivy league elite who couldn't escape low lottery numbers--I went to Arabic school with the son-in-law of Supreme Court justice Brennan along with a couple of Yale grads and a really funny guy from Penn State. Me, the college flunkie!)
After 9/11, I dug out my old stripes and GI-issued name tag and I have used them as my cube name tag ever since. I looked at them this morning as I came in and felt a quick moment of self-satisfied veteran pride.
I served :-)