I lived on US military bases until I was fifteen. I never wanted to enter the armed forces because I felt I had already served time as a kid. Still, the military is one aspect of my childhood (along with Christianity, only-child-ness, and Famous Monsters of Filmland) that left a lasting mark on my personality. I grew up with the sights and sounds of young GIs boisterously male bonding and openly expressing affection for one another. The smell of oily fatigues and Old Spice is stamped on my sense memory, probably forever. Except for the rustle of leather, no sound is sexier than dog tags clicking against each other on an airman's chest. I have a fondness for the temperaments and humor of soldiers, even today. As a college instructor, I have an immediate fondness for the enlisted men and women and veterans in my classes. Their manner is gentle, reserved, and tough, with eight times the discipline of other students--"disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills." Those who have seen combat have a dreamy placidity in their eyes as they discuss the importance of hospitality in Homer or the advantages of using the active voice in declaring an essay's thesis. Some can't help but add "sir" to every comment they voice in class. Absolutely charming.

So, Happy Veterans Day to everyone. Aim high--fly-fight-win. This we'll defend. Always ready, always there. Non sibi sed patriae. Semper paratas. Semper fideles. 


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