Ah, the title is so true. I have written my concurrence with this idea in several past blog posts: How serving in the military leaves an indelible mark, many times for the rest of one's life.
Today member Ron Albers sent me an email I really like. You may have seen it before floating around in an email. I decided to look up the author to give due credit for this fabulous piece of work. This article was written by journalist Ken Burger from the Charleston, South Carolina The Post and Courier newspaper, originally printed on March 10, 2010.
Mr. Burger does such a phenomenal job summing up what I think many of us feel. See if you don't agree, and be sure comment below.
"YOU CAN LEAVE THE MILITARY -- BUT IT NEVER REALLY LEAVES YOU.
The military is a comfort zone for anyone who has ever worn the uniform. It's a place where you know the rules and know they are enforced -- a place where everybody is busy, but not too busy to take care of business.
Because there exists behind the gates of every military facility an institutional understanding of respect, order, uniformity, accountability and dedication that becomes part of you and never, ever leaves you.
Some may miss the fact that you always knew where you stood in the military, and who you were dealing with. That's because you could read somebody's uniform from 20 feet away and know the score.
Service personnel wear their careers on their sleeves, so to speak. When you approach each other, you can read their name tag, examine their rank and, if they are in dress uniform, read their ribbons and know where they've served.
Some may miss all those little things you take for granted when you're in the ranks, like breaking starch on a set of fatigues fresh from the laundry and standing in a perfectly straight line military formation that looks like a mirror as it stretches to the endless horizon.
Some miss the sight of troops marching in the early morning mist, the sound of boot heels thumping in unison on the tarmac, the bark of drill instructors and the sing-song answers from the squads as they pass by in review.
To romanticize military service is to be far removed from its reality, because it's very serious business -- especially in times of war.
Some may even miss the salutes you would throw at officers and the crisp returns.
Yes and even miss smell of jet fuel hanging heavily on the night air and the sound of engines roaring down runways and jets disappearing into the clouds.
I know you just have to miss the hurry-up-and-wait mentality that we all griped about, a masterful invention that bonded people more than they'll ever know or admit.
Then there's the simple things you might miss such as people taking off their hats when they enter a building, speaking directly and clearly to others and never showing disrespect for rank, race, religion or gender.
You may miss being a small cog in a machine so complex it constantly circumnavigates the Earth and so simple it feeds everyone on time, three times a day, on the ground, in the air or at sea.
Mostly, I don't know anyone who has served who totally regrets it, and doesn't feel a sense of pride when they think back at the world they left behind with their youth.
Yes it's probably one time in your life on refection where you felt its something you loved -- and hated at the same time.
Face it guys & gals - we all miss some part of it (off duty as well !!)............Whether you had one tour or a career, it had a bearing on shaping your life."