Saturday, October 1, 2011

#25- In The Army Now

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1.  Basic Training


After overcoming some obstacles I was able to join the Florida Army National Guard in order to pay for my college education.  This was going to be the first time that I left home by myself for an extended amount of time.
Logo of US Army Infantry

My basic training was at Fort Benning, Georgia home of the Infantry.  That experience deserves a blog by itself but suffice it to say that it was life changing.

As a newly minted and somewhat closeted Christian I felt an uneasiness in joining the machine that is the US Army.  I had gotten myself unwittingly into the most demanding job and the one occupation that challenged my view on killing people.

OMG!  This is THE exact picture!
I remember being processed in a room or chapel that had a stained glass picture of an American soldier kneeling on one knee praying.  I thought that was blasphemous!!!  I thought "everyone knows that God is not for war so why do they have this picture here?"

When I wasn't having the shit scared out of me I contemplated the possibility of breaking one of the fundamental and universal moral laws:  "Thous Shalt Not Kill".

I prayed that God would see my heart and know that I was just a student who was doing a deed to get my education paid for and not rely on my parents.  I thought that was honorable enough to get me by and hoped that I would never have to answer for killing on Judgement Day.

Drill Instructors are scary (Marines)
One day, during one of our last formations the drill sergeant asked the company "Who's willing to kill?!"  The company erupted in a compulsory "HOOAH!!!".  This sent a chill down my spine because I didn't want to kill anyone.  It was wrong no matter what the drill sergeant said.  He wasn't going to have to answer to God, I was.  I instinctively predicted that during Judgement Day the excuse "my boss told me to kill" or "I was at war, God" was not a suitable retort when asked why had I broken this very plain, universal law.

High crawl.  Had to do that a few times.
The same drill sergeant asked "Who is not willing to blow a man's brains out?!"  This was his way of intimidating, creating cohesion and weeding out the cowards all at once.  I was the only person in the company who raised his hands.

Having seen Schindler's List in middle school, I was too familiar with the images of what a bullet can do to a human brain.  That imagery jolted the response from the base of my being to raise my hand in righteous opposition to the big bad drill sergeant.



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I don't remember how many people saw me raise my hand.  I was in the rear of the formation and I'm not that tall but I do remember the drill sergeant looking at me as if to take a mental snapshot of who the dissident was.

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