Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Rite of Passage Seven –A Fate Worse Than Death–
(1951-1953) Age 17-19 years old
Q: When did you first leave home? How did it feel to have to make your own choices at last?
I have explained that I was a solitary individual without friends of my own age and having always had my own room. Suddenly everything was totally different. Hundreds of young men surrounded me, thirty-one of them in my room. My only prior experience with such a ‘crowd’ was in my early childhood at school. Was this to be a repeat?
Being first in line had provided me with several benefits. I got to choose which of the thirty-two beds would be mine. I had drawn my ‘kit’ and received my ‘shots’ with what seemed to be a new needle. My hair had been almost completely removed and I had changed into my jeans.
As my roommates arrived they were met by me, sitting on my made-up bed, polishing the brass on my webbing. It was as though I knew the ropes and I became, for just one day, the ‘old soldier’ in their midst.
I doubt there was any one of us that felt ‘at ease’, perhaps many missed the familiar and were apprehensive about the immediate future.
We shared one absolute factor…we belonged to a new more rigid world, one with very firm rules. I had left my home where I belonged and where I knew the boundaries. Everything about me now was unfamiliar, my options were severely limited and my greatest desire was to somehow…survive!
SO…what about now?
I’ve heard it said, over and over…so many times “Military service makes a man out of you.” This was certainly true for me and I do catch myself wondering if our present generation of eighteen year olds would also benefit from a couple of years of military service?
To live within a definite ‘chain of command’ was to learn how every layer of authority was responsible for the ‘welfare’ of those beneath them. It was for my benefit that I obeyed. The orders I was given may have sometimes been wrong but their intent was right.
I was to live with limited options for the next five years and then, much later, for another five.
I look back with gratitude for those ‘contained’ years that kept me, for the most part, from the folly that can come with youthful freedom.
P.S. This week I read Treena’s poem Creations Love