The Call to Duty
Given this country’s history of drafting, it’s not unheard of for people to have served only because they were called to duty. Nothing wrong with that. However, my family has a proud tradition of volunteering, though for various reasons.
My grandfather enlisted in World War I. Why? Can’t say for certain since he’s not around to ask, but given that they changed his family name from Schmidt to Smith, let’s go with pure patriotism because I do know why that name change happened–the family didn’t want to be associated with Germany given the country’s behavior.
My dad enlisted after he graduated from high school. When asked why, he said his options had been oil, Army, or minor league baseball and the talent of the other players in the minor league (and major) scared him. That was after the end of the Korean War and before the Vietnam War, but when the Vietnam War started, he volunteered for duty. (I’ve shared this story on Facebook before, but he volunteered on the chance that it would keep someone from going. He did it five times.)
My dad spent 20 years in the Army and when his niece asked him what she should do for a career, he told her she should enroll in college, sign up for ROTC, and go into the Air Force; and she did. She put in 30 years and made it to the rank of Colonel then retired and promptly took civilian jobs with the government. He also encouraged his son, my half-brother, to enlist. My brother chose the Navy and saw the bombings in Beirut. He chose to not re-enlist, but the things he learned in the Navy laid the foundation for his current career.
Patriotism, duty, or just a job, people answer the call of duty for more than one reason. Some make it a lifetime commitment. Others serve their terms and leave. All realize the important role they played in serving our country.
Now you may wonder why I never entered into the service, given my family history, and I was tempted. I talked to my dad about ROTC when I enrolled in college. Right or wrong, he thought he knew what was best for me, as parents are want to do, and he told me he didn’t think I had what it took emotionally to even make it through boot camp. Though I’d like to say he was wrong, at that time in my life, he was right. The military isn’t for everyone, but I honor those who have the strength and determination to see the duty through.