Back when we were in college, Sheepdog and I (both separately before we met, and together after we knew one another better) contemplated joining the military. We were both a little lost and confused and didn’t know what we wanted to be when we grew up and we saw something in that organization that appealed to our sense of order and honor and patriotism (oh, and Sheepdog wanted to shoot stuff for a living and I liked the idea of shaving my head, but the first few answers sounded a little less crazy when we said them out loud). We could have furthered our education, learned real world skills and gotten some desperately needed direction and self-discipline, too. We had a choice, but the Man With The Plan had different ideas for us, and neither of us ended up enlisting.
It is an issue that weighs on me at times. I know it weighs on Sheepdog too. Should I have joined? What would my life be like now if I had? Why didn’t I make the choice to do it? I could have made a tangible contribution to society. Why wasn’t I more bold and courageous? What if everybody made excuses like I am making? What kind of America would we be living in today?
I have come up with different answers to those questions over the years. I still meditate on the “what ifs” from time to time and harbor some guilt over it, but I am pretty comfortable with the decision I made to not join the military. My reassurance primarily comes from believing that if I had made the choice to join, I likely would not have married Sheepdog and we wouldn’t have the family and life we have right now. And we are still able to make positive contributions toward our community and society. And even though we had to learn the hard way many of the life lessons that we would have learned early on during the course of our military training, this is the life that God intended for me to have. And it is a very good one indeed.
So, right now I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to those who have made the choice to serve our country in the past and those who are still serving right now. Your sacrifices are appreciated more than you’ll ever know. You made I choice that I could and did not. I am happy about the choice that I made, but I am also very grateful for the choice that you made. God bless our veterans and God bless America.