Sunday, October 18, 2015

Words Unsaid

In October 2014, I asked for command of the PA LF 77th BN in Lehigh County; I went up to the regiment commander and said: "I want Lehigh County", simple as that. The appointment came through a few weeks later.

A few days after that, I got a call from the state commander. After some pleasantries, he said: "So, you refused to register with Selective Service."

"Yes", I said. I make no secret of it. I've had this conversation before, and I knew where it was going.

Several people within LF, upon hearing that I now had responsibility for the 77th, had approached state command about this, believing that it would be inappropriate for me to hold that position. They feared I would be "hating on the military", as they put it.

The state commander told them that he has known me for several years, that he has complete confidence in me, that the last thing I would do is "hate on the military", and that the subject was closed.

About an hour later I realized that this was the first time in my life when I had a conversation that started with "So, you refused to register with Selective Service" and did NOT end in "you're fired", or "you cannot go to school", or "we cannot hire you", or "you cannot get a drivers license", or "you cannot get a court date".

Decency is such a rare thing in this world, and it can only be repaid with loyalty, something that doesn't come easily to people like me. I've always had tremendous respect for the state commander, but on that day he earned my loyalty.

The next day, I told this story to Chris Smith, my ex.

Chris: "Well I fired you."
Me: "No, I fired you."
Chris: "I think it was a mutual agreement."

Whenever I'm fed-up with my job, or with events in the world, or with my own shortcomings, I think of all this, and realize that I'm the luckiest man alive.

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