Memorial Day has taken on a whole new meaning in my life. Let me explain. Like many Americans, I believed it was a holiday signifying the start of summer barbecues, beach days and a vacation on the horizon.
But now that my seventeen-year-old son enlisted and started a nine week Army Basic training program, I have developed a new appreciation for what young men and women go through, and what other service men and women have done for us, and continue to do for our country and our world.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I have often taken our freedom for granted. If only we lived in a peaceful world where every single person on our planet could fall asleep without the fear of being killed, raped, and had a safe place to live.
For the next nine weeks, my 17-year-old son, like all the other soldiers during Basic training will learn the following Seven Army Values:
* Selfless Service
* Personal Courage
“These values form the basis of your soldier character and they sustain a soldier in times of both peace and conflict.”
His daily training schedule will be the following:
Army Boot Camp 5 a.m. – Wake up
5:30 a.m. – Physical Training
6:30 a.m. – Breakfast
8:30 a.m. – Training
Noon – Lunch
1 p.m. – Training
5 p.m. – Dinner
6 p.m. – Drill Sergeant Time
8:30 p.m. – Personal Time
9:30 p.m. – Lights Out
And finally, let’s not forget the gas chamber training:
As explained on the basic training website: “The gas chamber is probably the most mentally challenging exercise you will have to overcome at basic training. Recruits have to breathe Ortho-chlorbenzylidenedimalonitrile. Wow, that sounds scary. Actually, it is just the active substance of CS gas. You might recognize the name better as the common riot control formula called tear gas. Now, the bad news is yes, you will have to go into an isolated room and breathe this gas in your lungs and it does sting a little bit. The good news is as soon as you walk outside, the exercise is over.”
For those of you who have fought for our freedom, and for those families who have suffered the loss of a loved one, please forgive my lack of understanding. I finally grasp the sacrifice that your son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, lover, friend, cousin, uncle, aunt, or other relative has gone through. No words can express the gratitude that I now feel.