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Peredhil

Peredhil Speeches and Essays

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This is a U.S. Army graduation speech 19Aug2002 for a class of student who'd just completed their Advanced Individual Training (where they learn their madz0r l33t job skillz. :P)

Figured I'd warn the Gentle Reader before they start for it is looong and we have an international membership. Hopefully, there isn't anything which could be taken offensively, although I wouldn't expect everyone to agree with my points of view. ;)

-Peredhil

 

~~~

 

Greetings,

Distinguished guests, family, friends, and the stars of this show, the graduates.

 

In thinking back seventeen and a half years to my Advanced Individual Training -AIT- graduation, only two thoughts remain clearly in my mind:

One: I will never be as old as that guy droning on up there. From where did they pull him?

Two: How long is this going to go ON?! Will he ever finish?

 

I really can't do much if you share the first thought, however I'm going to use your help in dealing with the second. Who has a watch? pick one At ten minutes from right now, you stand up and sit down. that way, not only I, but everyone will know I will do my best to wrap up and finish within two minutes.

 

The Army equips us with various tools to meet the challenges of life. It also teaches an easy method of instruction:

Tell them what you're going to tell themn,

Tell them,

And then tell them what you told them and send them out to practice. This model meets nearly any teaching situation.

 

I'm going to tell you a short story, I'm going to break down a few tools you've been taught, and then I'm going to revisit the story. If time permits because I talked quickly, I'm going to give you some definitions. The purpose of this is in hopes that in seventeen plus years, or even seventeen minutes, you will retain more to help with your growth than I did.

 

The story...

Picture if you will, a civilian watching television. A commercial comes on, with stirring music. The camera focuses on a young woman, with perfect camouflage that strangely enough doesn't mask her simple wholesome beauty, toiling alone in the lemon predawn light up a twisting trail through heavy pine trees. Small animals scamper out of her way as she climbs with a resolute look on her face. Ignore the voice-over for a moment, it's the image we're painting here. Her rucksack is clean and tautly bulging, her M16 grasped firmly in her hands, the look of eagles in her eyes. Breathing deeply, she scrambles up the last few steep steps of the trail, and comes out into a mountain-top clearing, startling a multi-point buck which bounds away.

As she enters the clearing, the sun dawns, casting its warmth on her upturned face, and the camera sweeps around to show the incredible view from the mountain-top, the rippling hills, the forested valleys, etched to perfection with knife-edged morning shadows. As the camera completes its circuit it shows the solitary soldier standing a proud conqueror on the bald mountain's crown.

The screen freezes and giant golden letters announce: "An Army of One."

 

Our viewer sighs and perhaps thinks, "I want an identity. I want to feel like I have a purpose, a noble purpose. I want to be strong, without doubt, confident, trained. I want to be that Army of One, an individual complete to myself. Twenty-some thousand dollars for college doesn't hurt either."

 

Got the picture? Isn't advertising wonderful? We'll be coming back to that image.

 

I've just told you a story, now let me explain some of the tools you've recently learned.

"E Pluribus Unum", Out of many, unity. One of the foundations of the social experiment stamped on every coin we make. Put into practice in the Army.

You've shared a common experience in Basic and AIT. You've learned a common language filled with terms like "Hooah", "74Bravo" or "31Whiskey". You've received a common basic military training.

At this point, no matter where you came from, what your background, what your gender or skin color, you are now Army-green. that melting pot tradition, which takes each person's strengths and weaknesses and blends them together to get any mission done, is one of the things that separates out Army from nearly any other in the world. We train and empower soldiers at the lowest ranks with responsibilities and equipment that in another country are often only entrusted to officers.

From the highest views, you are part of a tradition. From the lowest views, you are part of a team. You will be challenged based on your capabilities, on your motivation, on your demonstrated words and deeds. Too many people use differences as an excuse not to do the hard tasks. "He or She is always on me because I'm different." He or She better be on you, because you matter, and they care. Not about your comfort, but about the mission and your growth as a human being. It makes sense really. The stronger you are, the more you have to give to others, and the more secure you are in receiving. And really, that's why we are strong - to defend others. You must not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. By now you should realize all the words in the world won't dig the foxhole.

And if you are judged on something other than Army-green, the Army doesn't lie or hide; there are legal avenues of recourse. The Army regulations are your canopy of protections as long as you do the right thing.

 

Doing the right thing. You have a wealth of tradition, and defined regulations to guide you. But many armies have those. The American Soldier is held to a moral and ethical standard which in my experience is higher than any other army in the world. No matter what was considered right or wrong before you came into this army, you have a common value system by which to judge any situation now.

 

I'm certain by now you've heard the acronym LDRSHIP. I'm going to throw in the mission vowels to give you a ten-letter tool. Taking notes isn't necessary, listening is.

Loyalty - Faithfulness to obligations and duties. This starts it all off for a soldier. The first letter in leadership and the foundation. When you entered the Army, you started with an oath. You learned your fundamental duties in your Three General Orders.

Ethical - Being in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the conduct of a profession. We have a Code of Conduct which, with our values, governs and guides us.

Adaptable - Capable of becoming, or being made suitable to a particular situation or use. Whether its running a computer, filling out a travel voucher, or buffing a hallway, we are capable and adaptable. Don't get locked into any one job. You must be adaptable to any circumstance.

Duty = An act or course of action required of one by position or law, a moral obligation. At the lower ranks, your position requires you to be obedient. To trust. And to learn. You must always stay focused not only on the task, but on the reasons. Try to learn from everything you do or see. Set goals and research, plan now for two ranks higher, and try to see the bigger pictures. Learn to think. Even if you plan on doing one tour, and getting out, it will help you to grow as a person and develop strengths that can be used in any job.

Enthusiastic - Having or showing great excitement or interest, very positive. It is so much easier to tear down someone else, so you can be lazy. To make excuses or to be cynical. Any one can bump along the stream's bottom. It's an excuse not to try - and risk failure. Your attitude is more important than your intelligence. Failed genius is proverbial, but people who persist and refuse to give up accomplish the seemingly impossible. When setting a goal, look at the end goal. When performing, look at the next step. I'm told the Russians have a saying, "One step at a time, you can walk around the world."

On a side note, if you're ever trapped into speaking in front of a group, for example, going to a promotion board, enthusiasm is your friend. You breathe deeper and talk louder. This will steady your voice and no one has to know how nervious you really may be.

Respect - Willingness to show consideration or appreciation, to appreciate, honor or esteem. Treat others as they positively want to be treated. Acknowledge the person within the uniform, even when you can't acknowledge or support their actions. Praise publically and correct privately, whenever possible.

Selfless Service - Motivated by concern for others, work done for others as an occupation. This is what the Army as a whole is truly about. We suffer and endure so that others can have the opportunities to choose freedom. We work as a team to achieve things that defeat individuals. The Vikings had a saying, "Bare is the back that is brotherless." The Christians have a saying, "Better are two than one, for if one falls, the other can help him up." Both are true in my experience. You are as strong as your battle-buddies are strong. You don't have to like them; this isn't about whether or not someone is worthy of your effort. That worth was given when ya'll raised your hands to join.

Honor - Good name, reputation, glory, the dignity accorded to position. Honor your word. I'll tell you, working a job with meaning is addictive. You ARE America's Army. When you're on leave, and don't shave and let yourself look bad - it isn't you alone any more. You are a walking advertisement now, at all times. You are looked at, and judged by, eyes you don't even realize are watching.

Especially in a foreign country. Having people come and thank you for serving is an ego boost, but when you're in another country, and everything you do or say MEANS America to a nation, then you realize what an incredible responsibility you bear. There is a reason we are currently the most feared army in the world, the most successful army in the world, the most powerful army in the world. It is the quality of poeple like you, holding the Army's name in high reputation, regardless of how you feel as an individual. Every one of you is a guardian of the Army's reputation and honor - at all times.

Integrity - Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code; the quality of being whole or undivided. Another foundation of a value system. Adhere - to stick through many situations. To realize when you're weak and tempted, that you're going to do the right thing anyway. We are a moral army. The world may fear us because we have great power and they know the temptations inherent in power. The world may love us because we exercise that power, to the best of human ability, morally and ethically. There has never been a year in this century or the last, that we haven't turned away more immigrants applying to come into America than we've had immigrate out. To much of the world, we ARE the land of freedom and opportunity.

Personal Courage - The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or sudden changes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution. It's okay to be afraid -as long as you perform anyway. That's bravery. Confidence comes with training and repeated successful experience. That's why we have a Sergeant's time training program in the Army. Support it! Personal courage is standing up and letting yourself be counted for what is right, regardless of personal consequences.

 

Together, all ten of these words, Loyalty, Ethical, Adaptable, Duty, Enthusiastic, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage spell LEADERSHIP.

 

Americans soldiers - you- are guardians. A guardian is selfless - doing the hard right for the common good. Here's another tool you've been given, the three General Orders:

One. "I will guard everything within the limits of my post, and quit my post only when properly relieved." We Guard. We only quit when relieved so the mission never falters and others can focus on their tasks, not have to wonder about ours. This implies the working of a team.

Two. "I will obey my special orders and perform all of my duties in a military manner." We obey. No matter what your rank, no matter what your duty position, in the Army or out, never forget that you are accountable to others. We led, and we obey. We perform. We don't just talk, we do. We just voice complaints, we analyze problems and offer solutions. And we do it in a military manner.

Three. "I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions to the Commander of the Relief." We are vigilant to report violations. We don't just walk by, cover-up, or ignore them. We respond to emergencies as a team. We constantly seek to improve for the next person; an unbroken chain of soldiers until the mission is complete. We have a chain of command, in this case the Commander of the Relief - we have recourse when confused, in doubt, or overwhelmed.

And again, we are guardians in another Army tool. Our Code of Conduct begins, "I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. Are you beginning to see how perfectly all these fit together, each echoing and building on the others? Hear the values of Selfless Service and Duty?

The Code of Conduct continues, "I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist." Sounds like a refusal to quit one's post to me - General Order #1. Taking care of others. But not throwing lives away unnecessarily - because if you're captured, you can KNOW that the Army will not stop looking until you're recovered one way or another. Have you considered that America loves its people enough to let the entire nation be held hostage for a few? It happened in Iran. Do the few love the nation enough to endure hardship, or sacrifice themselves for the many if needed?

As you read on through all six paragraphs of the Code, look for the General Orders and Values in each one. The Army tools are like that - they weave together to make an unbreakable whole. You've learned the Soldier's Creed, and by now should be able to pick out the interplay between all these tools; when you learn the Creed of the NonCommissioned Officer, you'll find these threads in there too.

I've covered some tools, now let's revisit the opening story.

The Army of One. Now we know that mountain-top soldier is part of something bigger than any individual, the United States Army. An Army of teamwork, of resolution, of values, under orders and obedient to the people of the nation. An NCO with whom I worked once defined the Army of ONE as an acronym. ONE represents Officers, NCOs, and Enlisted, all working together to accomplish the mission and take care of one another.

Still remember our soldier on the mountain-top? Realistically she has sweat pouring down her camo'ed face and inside her uniform and is grateful for the breeze. She has burning calves from the climb. She moves quickly across the clearing and secures the other side to ensure the safety of those who follow. And you just know her battle buddy is just out of sight, a roughly ten meter interval, covering her back on every trun of that twisting trail, and ready to help her up if she should slip.

There. I've told you a story. I've described some tools you can apply to measure situations and decided on what is right to do. I've given you the LEADERSHIP acronym to remember values, and interwoven those definitions with the General Orders and the Code of Conduct. As an added bonus, I'll leave you with a quote, The Chief of Staff's definition of a soldier:

"Our soldiers provide back to America a corps of leaders who have an unmatched work ethic, who have a strong sense of values, who treat others with dignity and respect, who are accustomed to hard work, who are courageous, who thrive on responsibility, who know how to build and motivate teams, and who are positive role models for all around them."

Your choice - will you be that type of soldier?

If there are no questions, I thank you for your time - and hope learning has taken place in this 'manditory presence' meeting.

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13Jun1996. English 102, topic: Facade or Irony

Example of finding out an hour before class that the assignment is due that day.

 

Early in meandering the paths of life, for each traveller there comes a time when they misjudge a situation, and must face that they've mistaken their perception of reality ofr reality itself. Some blithely pass on, repeating the experience again and again. Others begin travelling purposely, dedicating themselves to the pursuit of Truth. A Truth which hides behind the facades of misperception, the kernal knowledge of an absolute reality which may not be misjudged or mistaken when applied to situations. This pursuit of absolute Truth may itself take varied paths.

As one enters the broad street of Outer Senses, they may encounter various sects of scientist-priests happily using enhancing instruments to strip away veil after veil of Nature. Nature as perceived through the five fallible senses, the world outside the Self. One heirophant after another presents hypothetical truths, Aristotle, Newton, Einstein and more. Each speaking for Nature herself, a coy mistress, seeking to strip bare her essential self. Tricksy wench, she always has more hidden, smaller and smaller particles, larger and further stars. The hotblooded pursuer of the micro and the macro is happiest in the chase and fleeting glimpses of Truth in Nature.

For those who notice the men behind the curtains of Outer science, a dissatisfaction creeps within. Are these outer ways meaningful? Applicable? Do they answer the questions inside of a solitary heart? Leaving the street, the Seeker passes to the courtyard of the Inner way. Pursuing the mind beyond the brain, seeking its residence - liver? heart? brain? The thoughts restlessly pass dependent on the senses, but process independently of them. What wellsprings give rise to the emotions, the thoughts, the motives of behavior and interaction? The "whats" and "hows" and "whys" of the Inner Selves, the primal causes of nature and nurture, serial and financial killings. The High Priests of Modern Inner, Freud, Jung, Skinner, lay out the Truths, each different, each reasonable. A thousand reasons why your spouse burns your toast, your child wets the bed. Many love these toys, and play with them on any occasion, with little excuse - happy to analyze life, freed by observation from the burden of living lives of their own.

Behind the Inner veil, lies the Ultimate Answers of Life and Death, Life or Death? The twin Priests of Non-Senses, unknowable by any sense we possess. Needing an ultimate answer the Seeker finds an ultimate truth:

All die.

What lies there after? In Seeking Life we've listed shades of meaning and found no answers. The only scientific proof or study depends on pursuing death, whose answers are bought at a cost and may not be shared.

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Yet another English 102, 13Jun1996 Assignment. Actually did this one as an in-class writing test. As a word of explanation, much of the procrastination for this class was due to recovery from doctors accidently misdiagnosing me - and sending me toxic on a medication to treat a condition I didn't have. Heh, and I never missed a day of work...

 

This one I titled "Child Brainwashing, or the need for Serenity."

 

Serenity may be considered as a beneficial attitude or frame of mind, a balance of thought and emotion. the old saw states in part: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." Serenity does not depend, therefore, on circumstances as much as on the mental view a person takes of those circumstances, their assessment of what can be gained or lost. It also depends on how much power said person feels they possess to alter the situation, to affect the odds. Why is serenity needed? It is a Good Thing to question; serenity provides a recovery period, a chance to reassess a situation, ultimately a means to survival in the modern world.

A strong claim, survival, let's examine a typical college situation. A student's mind is presented with a dilemma, such as the blank page at the start of an English essay assignment. The body reacts to the stress by releasing a chemical wash. The chemicals enable the body to rise to meet the challenge of the moment. Effects include the pulse accelerating, bringing nutrients and oxygen to the brain and muscles. The hands and feet cool as blood is diverted away from vulnerable extremities; in the case of an injury to hand or foot, there will be less bleeding. Digestive processes nearly cease - there will be time to digest if the body survives. Diarrhea purges the body of extra weight in case the situation calls for a run. All these are reactions to stree, useful reactions, selected by breeding survivors of other dangerous situations, such as Latin or Greek examinations of yesteryear.

However, if the stress response is carried on too long, paper after paper, class after class without relief, the body suffers. The immune system weakens, resistance to disease declines, allergies abound, colds increase. Joints ache, and digestion becomes a chancy process; indigestion and ulcers abound in this intense chemical environment.

The student mind, once a sharp instrument to keenly cut to the heart of the topic becomes fatigued and dulled. Because the mind on completion of one topic begins anticipating the next, the body is not allowed to recover, the stress response continues, with subsequent consequences for the mind once again. Symptomatically, the mind fugues into daydreams, skips erratically from one topic to the next, unable to light deeply on any one thought. Judgment suffers as the attention span decreases; the decision taken may be whatever is uppermost in the mind at the moment.

Emotionally, moodiness and temper are difficult to avoid, the chemicals which reflect and support anger and rage already washing through the body. An ugly picture of our English student emerges, brooding between assignments, yet the continuing distress directly impacting his ability write the next required paper, by diminishing his concentration and creativity. If he seeks to burn off the chemical coursing through his blood by releasing anger at a spouse, he definitely will not have the stress-relieving opportunity to attempt reproduction in the immediate future.

But the English course MUST be taken screams his mind. The essays must be written, and written well to achieve the grade, which leads to degree, on which the job, the future of his children, and perhaps the future of mankind rests! Well, perhaps not mankind, but it can feel that way, and the FRAME of mind is that to which the body reacts.

Aha! A class which must be taken, a situation which cannot be changed. Time for a cooling wash of serenity to seep in and empower this dull clod of a student, breaking the prolonged stress cycle asunder. A mental review of the situation, a reevaluation of the importance, a more realistic assessment of future consequences, in thought's processes such as these lays escape. Pulling back mentally to look at the tast instead of the enormity of the task enables the fevered mind to quit spinning in circles, to quit sending impassioned signals of distress to the body, which, now signaled from the realistic mind that the emergency is over, is allowed to recover.

Digestion improves. Extremities warm. Yes, a warm fuzzy glow permeates the body of our English student. The relaxed body feeds the brain soothing chemicals of calm which allow the slow large thoughts of thesis and plot to bubble to the surface of creativity, like escaping air from hot chuckling murky subconscious mud. By stopping to reassess the situation, the student is enabled to deal with the situation. Thought therefore preceeds thought's actions.

Now that we know the necessity of serenity, what are some useful ways in which our student can obtain it? Distraction seems to be primary. Mentally removing himself from the immediate, thinking of anything that, for him, is not a threat. Poetry, games, still limpid pools, raging waterfalls, the sound of one eye blinking or believing prayer, all these can distract the mind from the immediacy of the essay, the virginity of the paper awaiting pen, the urgency of the grade...

The inexorable sweep of the hellish second hand around the clock's smiling face. Breaking his mind's fixation on failure's consequences, breaking the chemical results of future's lost, our student can accept the situation and achieve soothing serenity.

And, as in this essay, the proud student having achieved serenity, may alter the situation to one that may be overcome. Now that the lurking situational snakes and roaring loud lions of our society are identified as mental challenges, now that we know the importance of cultivating an ability to achieve an essential serene attitude, we may deal with knowlegably with future quandaries.

And like our now serene non-suffering student, we will find that the blank page of life has yielded easily to a simply plodding pace of one step at a time, and that time, as in this class essay, has come to an end.

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August 2003 response to the many many people at my 25th High School reunion (class of 1978) who simply could *not* reconcile the "me they knew before" with the "Army me they knew now."
How it came to be...


Strangely enough, a true story. In my experience, God has a sense of humor, and doesn't mind questions as long as you obey...

In 1984, I was happily living life as a Drone. Drones are those male bees that live off the fat of the hive, idling away their hours, until they get to mate once and then die. That was me. I'd come to a reconcilliation with God in 1982, but still really hadn't found a purpose in life. I'd been dating Kerry off and on for a while, but held her at an arm's length. I lived in my parent's basement bedroom, occasionally took odd jobs when I wanted money, and played games. All sorts of games. RolePlaying Games, fantasy, science-fiction, etc. Board games, "die-cut-counters" war games, games, games, games. It's something I've always loved and I have a certain skill which is often hidden because for me, the joy is in watching the possibilities of the game unfold, reguardless of who wins, while others seemed upset if they didn't win.
Anyway...
The beginning of 1984 had rolled around, when God began putting it onto my heart to go talk to the Army recruiter. You've GOT to be joking. My Dad was a World War II Drill Sergeant. My Uncle had been in a MASH unit in Korea, and although he won a Silver Star for Morale (from the stories at the VFW, he was one of the primary inspirations for the character Hawkeye Pierce in the movie MASH,) he'd hated war. My Grandfather had been in WWI, etc etc. And all of the family history has emphasized the downsides of the military. Bloodthirsty neanderthals, subintelligent or on the other side, cunningly manipulative tyrants who abused power. Military reservations were to keep these savages away from normal people until a conflict - "break glass in case of war".
So I delayed and put it off. But God kept bringing it up. I've learned the hard way not to ignore this sort of thing - God seems to always arrive at His destination, and I'd rather be a wheel than a speedbump in His plans.
Finally decided, "Hey, maybe I just need to witness to someone there, and that's the only place to meet them?" So I went down to the Army Recruiter's office. I figured I'd try to spike the cannon before the battle, so I walked in prepared...
Stepped in - no one but the Recruiter, and after two sentences, I could tell he wasn't the one to which I was to witness(notice how stubbornly I keep trying to turn each command into something I wanted. :P). So I played my trump card up front.
"Hi. God told me to come talk to you." I figured - they won't want me if I'm crazy, right? Little did I know that Recruiters are ALWAYS pressed to meet their quotas in a volunteer Army. I'll cut through most of the conversation - but bottom line, he wasn't turning me away. In fact, finding that I'd graduated High School, with only two "B"s and in the NOVA (special smarties program some of us were forced into) program he was happy. Finding out I had around 30 semester hours split between three schools (Graceland, Iowa; Universitiy of Idaho; LCSC), with a current 4.0 at LCSC, he was even more thrilled. Didn't do drugs, healthy. He was Very Happy that I could check of all sorts of Quota blocks for him. If I'd been a black or Amerindian female, I could've made his Quarter right there.
Toward the end, I was getting a bit nervious. This was sounding serious, and I simply KNEW the Army wasn't good enough for me. Then he asked about my ASVAB scores. I'd never heard of them. Turns out to be a Military test that determines your strengths and weaknesses, and correspondingly what job skills for which you are eligible. A very important test. A very VERY important test.
I scheduled it for three days after my current semester's final exams. I stayed up cramming for the exams, then played games for three days straight, living off pizza and Mountain Dew.
By the time I got into the ASVAB testing center, I was buzzingly exhausted, but in a good mood. Heh, I may talk to the recruiter. I may take the test. FAR be it from ME to disobey God... but I'll make sure I get my way too!
I was so wiped, it took me two minutes to fill in the bubbles on the mark-sense form for my name.
The test passed in a blur. Since I didn't really care, I was speed reading the questions and marking down whatever answer I noticed first. I'd finish in five or less minutes, and then wait for everyone. "Heh!" I thought, "Try getting me into the Army on THIS!"
I slept well that night.
A couple of weeks later, the Recruiter called. Turns out that the test is on a scale of 1-145, in a number of areas, with 100 considered good. On the GT (General Test over math and english. this base value combines with each of the other scores to determine your potentials,) I received a 143. My lowest score was a 128. All the rest were in the 130-140 range. I sat in shock as he burbled happily that I was eligible for any MOS(job skill) in the Army. No! How could this be? Apparently, I'd gotten myself out of the way enough that God could provide the answers. This was NOT looking good.
The next and final step was to bus up to Spokane to the "MEPS" center in March. This was where the final decision was made. Would you join or not? Did they want you? What MOSes were open that fiscal year, cause you can't get a job unless there is a place to put you. My last chance...
It was warm that spring. At the time, I had hair down to my shoulder-blades, and weighed in at a whopping 128 pounds on my 5'10" frame. I schemed...
I wore the same bluejeans and shirt for two weeks. On top of that, I wore my Dad's old Army Field Jacket. I took long walks. I slept in those clothes. I was so nasty, I couldn't stand myself, as normally I have this thing about keeping clean.
Heh, heh, heh...
The bus ride to Spokane. I sat in the back of the bus - everyone else sat up front with the windows down. I read one of the many books I'd brought. I was feeling pretty secure- I found out I'd get $15 for bussing up and back, I needed the money for a date. Thought I had it all figured out - God knew I'd need the money waaaay back then, and this is how I'd get it. Yay God! I love being spoiled. The others huddled from my funk up front the entire trip.
Heh, heh, heh...
Went into the MEPS center, with the five recruiting offices all off a large open room. I sat in a corner reading.
Finally, the Specialist calls me into talk to the Master-Sergeant. As snottily as I could, I demanded one of their three computer jobs, actually, one of their two as the third was for senior ranked enlisted soldiers, known as senior NCOs (Noncommissioned Officers).
He looked me up and down and with a delighted smile told me the Army didn't have an opening for me in computers - how about infantry. With a final sigh of relief, I popped to my feet, saluted, and said, "Nope! Thank you so much!" I went out to read and wait for the bus back, already dreaming of my shower (I planned on running the hot water out) and my upcoming date.
The Air Force guy had gone through his people, and was looking at a clipboard. He finally came over and spoke to me.
"You Wilson?!" Obviously the record before him with all these great scored didn't reconcile with the bum in front of him.
Heh, heh, heh.
"Yup." The conversation went back and forth as disbelievingly he listed off each item that made me a prime recruit, and I confirmed they were all me.
"Wanna join the Air Force?" He said it as if he were in pain.
"Nope, God told me to join the Army, and they don't want me. I'm free and clear now." Silly me, giving out all the truth like that. But I was relieved! He gave me a funny look and went away. Now, what I didn't know at the time, but found out later is, he and the Specialist from the Army office had a bible study every day at noon. When I said that, he had the funny look because beyond all belief, he believed me.
The Air Force guy went back over by his office and the Navy guy started kidding him about being desparate, referring to me. The Air Force said in a loud whisper, "No, that's WILSON!". They both looked at me in disbelief.
Then the Navy guy came over and asked if I was interested in the Navy! I made the same reply, and he went away. The bus couldn't come quickly enough. The Coast Guard guy started over but didn't make it through the body odor cloud.
The Marine guy had been standing outside his office at Parade Rest (a modified form of attention), looking really sharp in his red and blue uniform. Unlike the others, he had no clipboard. He marched over to the Navy and Air Force guys, who were still whispering in disbelief, and listened for a moment. Then he marched over to me, while in the background the Air Force guy grabbed the Army Specialist and began whispering and pointing at me.
The Marine almost got me that day. He was SO sharp. He marched up to a normal speaking distance and looked at me. I was drawn to my feet, and he shook my hand and didn't wipe his hand on his pants. I don't think *I* could've done that, I was so funky. He then looked me slowly up and down, and told me, "You look like hell. I don't know what happened to you, but you have the scores and you're healthy. If you join the Marines, you'll always be part of a time honored Corps, you'll never look like that again, and you'll find every limit you have - and all your strengths. You could be someone. Are you up for it?"
I was astounded. The discipline he had, the sales pitch, it really resonated with my wastrel life. It was with great regret I told him that if God hadn't told me to join the Army - who didn't want me - that I would've become a Marine that day.
"Can't argue with the Spirit Commander in Chief," he said, then did an about face and marched away.
Just then, the Army Specialist came back and told me the Master-Sergeant wanted to please speak with me again. Found out later that, based on the knowledge that God wanted me to join the Army, he'd done a long song-and-dance of my scores and all that stuff, and convinced the Sergeant that the Army needed me.
So I went back in, and the Sergeant says with a big fake smile, "Son, I think I was a bit hasty before. I've been on the phone with the West Coast Commander down in San Diego, and I have permission to get you any job you qualify for, which, heh heh, is all but the ones reserved, heh heh, for the senior NCOs. Up to a year out, you can sign up now and go active duty when the job slot opens. You wanted computers right?"
The rest passed in a blur, I ended up signing to be in the Army as a Computer Operator as of October.
I went back, proposed marriage to Kerry (badly), and ended up marrying Kerry on October 5th, then signing in Active Duty on October 16th and heading off for Kentucky for training.
And the Army has turned out to be nothing like it was in my ancestor's days, and has turned out to be a great blessing in many ways. So it turned out that it was a good choice for me after all.
And I can just imagine God, on that day at the MEPS center, looking down at me with all my plans to sabotage the whole thing without actually ever disobeying, saying,
"Heh, heh, heh".

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Tattered *shakes her head and finger* Peredhil, don't you know there is only one right and one wrong, with no in between? Good thing you were just afraid and not unwilling to do the right thing. I loved reading this story, you, your life, unplugged. You made some good choices, that's hard to do. I am so glad that the army has men like you, protect and serve! J/K... :D I have thought about joining before, but Iiiii dont think I am cut out for the job.

 

I really liked how blunt you were with your interviewers, like you thought honesty would make them think you were crazy.LOL. I think you were that "wheel" that God knew you'd be. I can't get over your description of yourself in the 80's, long hair was in, and you must have looked and smelled like a typical dead head. I love it! haha

 

By the way!!!! You and Kerry were married on MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! I am having one of those again soon, ya know, like on your aniversary! I am happy for me! :woot:

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Happy Birthday Fellow Libra!!! No WONDER you are soooo cool, so cool that people write poems and loooooong entries about how cool you are. Yes you have the best of all worlds you are a computer geek who wore his hair long and went weeks without washing, YET STILL got what he wanted in spite of himself! You are, you are. You are definatley not just a typical nerd, you are smart, educated, dedicated, wisdomicated, is that a word? Hahaha.

 

Happy Birthday!!!!! I tryed to send you a personal message...BUT it wouldn't go through. So this will have to do...

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My word.

 

That last story sounds like something that I would do.

 

In fact, I'm in something of a situation like that myself, currently. Perhaps I should just accept that God will bring me to his intended destination, whether I like it or not?

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in my experience -

whether you like it or not - yes. Although in the long run, it has always worked out for the best, even while during it may be not very fun.

 

But, again, in my experience, obedience is the key. Do you trust? In my case, I never told God "no", I just obeyed in my own individualistic way...

(which has, in the past, made things much harder on me than they might've been.)

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My family has a tradition that when someone dies, instead of mourning and feeling sorry for ourselves, we gather and present memories and pictures to cherish the life they've lived. These are usually gathered together after the funeral and made into scrap-books to be given to the immediate family - spouse, children - so that they can in turn pass the books on to their children and help to keep the person from just becoming a name to later generations.

Works for us.

 

Anyway, a couple of years ago, my brother-in-law died, and as I was unable to attend the funeral, I sent this memory in my stead.

I'm told that my Mom laughed and cried, but then, she does both pretty easily.

 

Recording here so another computer crash doesn't prompt me to herculean efforts to retrieve it again.

-P

 

Memories of David

 

I suppose that considering the end, it is useful to go back to the beginning.

I first met David when I was in the height of my brooding snotty teen-age stage. (Contrary to popular belief, I HAVE passed out of this. I am now a brooding snotty adult; thank you so very much!) Anyway… It was a bright sunny day, the valley was clothed in greens and browns, the river was a dark blue-grey, and I was wallowing in wishing it were raining.

Penny wanted me to meet this Wonderful, Smart, Hard-Working, Funny Man. Sounded like Grandpa Arave come again. So all the way out to Asotin, a place I didn’t know and didn’t want to know, Penny was so positively giddy, so positively gushing that I was positive I’d be ill.

So we pull up and there were these guys working on a BIG truck. I must digress here. I am automotively challenged. No further than that, I am petroleum challenged. If it has grease or oil, gasoline or kerosene, I don’t like it, I don’t understand it, and I approach it with fear and loathing. Ask Dad about lawn mowers and me sometime. So here are these guys working on this truck. There are wrenches and hammers and tools and jacks and other mysterious implements of destruction scattered about, and they even had the hood of the monster tipped forward, it’s poor suffering engine laid naked for the world to see. Icky.

Around the truck comes this fellow with reddish hair, reddish beard, not too tall, but not short, with a big crooked smile. He greeted Penny as he finished wiping his hands carefully on a rag and held out one hand to shake. A hand with calluses. A hand with every pink ridge and whorl highlit by the blackened oils of labor ground in over time.

“Your hand is dirty,” I pointed out in a calm whine, “I don’t like to get mine dirty.” A telling blow! I was used to being Penny’s darling little brother (a blind spot of hers); a personage to be wooed by her wanna-be boyfriends. At my words, Penny rolled her eyes as if to say, “He’s not that bad, you know how teens can be.” A conspiratorial look that urged Dave to ignore my behavior. I stood smugly waiting for this moment to pass, position established, so that I could move on to being nice and clever – if I wanted to be. After all, this man worked with trucks, could he appreciate my full fifteen years of cleverness and wit?

David looked at me from my long soft hair down to my soft white hands, bounced his gaze off my huarachis and back up again. My nasty smile slipped a little. Then without raising the volume of his voice, (but oh the intensity!) He proceeded to deliver a blistering speech about the type of labor it took to produce hands like his. He waxed eloquent in lyrically harsh words about the type of parasite that lived off men who worked. He continued about the difference between those that stood around and commented on things about which they knew nothing. He segued into the patriotism of men that built the county and made it a land where children like me could live free to wallow in contempt.

He summed up with the amount of feeling he had for Penny that would provoke him to make an extra effort to get his hands clean so that he could come over and shake hands with a Little Brother. He concluded with the statement that I would shake his hand or never set foot on the property of this working man.

This was not what I’d expected. Kinda took me right out of the wonderful melancholy mood I’d been working and set me back on my heels. This was NOT a boyfriend; this was a man with which to be reckoned.

So I shook his hand. His hand was warm and rough. His grip was strong with the feeling of immense power in reserve – he obviously could have crushed my hand if he’d chose and he and I both knew it. But he didn’t, he just shook firmly once.

I withdrew my hand from his and found that he was right. None of the stains had made their way to mine. Some things don’t transfer that easily.

Then he kicked me off his property. Yep. Told me I could wait in the car until I was ready to act my age.

I sat fuming in the car, expecting Penny to work her gentle peacemaking magic on him, expecting him to come out and relent and invite me inside.

It only took me half-an-hour to realize that not only was this man not going to relent, he wasn’t going to let Penny relent or apologize for him. Worse, from the sounds of laughter and the occasional fragments of sound I could hear, he was keeping Penny so entertained that she didn’t really miss me.

So I pushed my hair off my face, pulled on my best manners and carefully walked up and knocked on the door. Dave opened it and held out his hand. We shook hands; I reintroduced myself and was invited in to have a wonderful time.

It is typical of David that he never mentioned it again, never held it against me, and never let anyone else who’d witnessed the entire thing hold my stupidity against me. Lesson taught, lesson learned, move on.

That was David. Unrelenting as an Old Testament prophet when he was right; forgiving and loving when you finally realized and acknowledged he was right. He made a habit of not being wrong. Merry as a child, gleefully wicked in pricking pompous balloons. I’m sure someone else will mention him catching Wild Rainer Beers. Or speak on him sitting atop the Lewiston Hill pumping up the power on his CB radio to the point that when he keyed his mike and said, “This is God speaking,” he overrode everyone else in the entire valley and they couldn’t get talk until he let them.

He was solemn and wise in giving advice, cutting straight to the point and right to the heart of the matter. He wasn’t offended if you didn’t take his advice either. But he wouldn’t put up with further whines or complaints. And when the consequences of your choices hit, he wouldn’t say ‘I told you so’ (much), but was there to help you pick yourself up.

A truck driving man, a Man of God, a stern, tender, strong, loving man. A good friend and better brother. A man of vision, who knew not only how to set a goal, but how to plan to get there. He also could make the journey, the type of man who could take others with him on his struggle for excellence. He always appreciated an audience.

The life of a man might be judged by the quality of his children. Look at his children. That a strong man could raise children strong enough to argue with him, strong enough to not only lead, but follow, strong enough to be adults on their own, that is a tribute.

As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. Think of it from the iron’s point of view. A good edge requires something strong to sharpen against. It requires a force and pressure to push them together. It requires the perfect balance of friction and oil – all done with the correct angle. Dave was a whetstone who by his example demanded a fine edge from others. He sure straightened out a few nicks in me!

And finally David was a Storyteller who didn’t let facts get in the way of the Truth. So he’d appreciate this memory of our first meeting. I may have embellished the adjectives, but the truth is as presented.

I miss him already, and look forward to seeing him standing with Christ to greet us – hopefully soon.

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I liked this thread, especially the last post, about your deceased brother-in-law David. He sounds like he was quite a man. I like your posts dealing with experiences in life, they really seem to connect to me.

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A bit of a ramble for archival purposes. Read at your own risk, for this is the person behind the Peredhil

 

I am an exclusion thinker. I'm blessed with enough that I take what goes correctly for granted, and my focus is innately directed toward exclusions. what ever I accomplish, I zero in on the (however small) portion that I could have done better.

I "If Only".

If Only I'd worked harder. If Only I'd worked smarter. If Only I'd figured it out a bit sooner. If Only I had/hadn't said something. If Only.

I fill my life with "If Only"s.

If Only I'd walked with Jesus surely it would be easier to believe what is written instead of how I feel. If Only I weren't alone. If Only I could just retreat from the world, and all it's demands, and have time to think and study and figure things out.

Even my If Onlys are contrary.

The result of my exclusionary thinking is that I don't do things. I wait on circumstances to change. I find excuses not to take charge of my life. I blame things, circumstances, people.

My exclusionary thinking focuses on contrast. "But". "But what if" and I look at myriad futures that may or may not happen and find reasons not to try.

Exclusionary thinking on my part leads to failure, excuses for failure, and reasons not to try.

 

The only solution I've found for my ability to sabotage and defeat myself is trust in God. After so long, it's pretty much experience on my part, I know without uncertainty that things will work out, I will be taken care of, etc. Such a simple thing.

 

Still doesn't make it any easier to live, just gives me a choice. Focus on promises? Or my "If Only" or "But"s.

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