This I Believe

Eric - Farmington Hills, Michigan
Entered on November 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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For Pride and Country

“Live for something rather than die for nothing.” These words spoken by the great general, George S. Patton epitomize one of my main beliefs, that military service in the defense of your homeland is one of the most important things a citizen can do.

My family has served in the military for generations. From Vietnam to the two great wars we have served in the trenches of Germany, driven convoys in the Pacific, and directed airborne traffic in Thailand. It is due in part to this close connection with the military and my patriotic ideals that I feel a sense of obligation not only to my country, but to my ancestors to continue this tradition. I fulfill this sense of obligation through my enlistment into the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corp, where upon my graduation from college I will receive full commission in the United States Air Force as a Second Lieutenant.

Though I have always been patriotic, it took me a long time to develop this belief. Since my grandfather’s death I have spent countless hours listening to stories from my father, grandmother, and my grandfather’s good friend Lee, who served with him in the Pacific during WWII. These stories, as well as my father’s own service stories, created within me a great sense of pride in military service that continues to grow. One such story about my grandfather takes place on the island of Okinawa, which was the final island invaded by U.S. forces during WWII. He was driving along the beach one night at the rear of a convoy that was heading back to the temporary headquarters that had been established on the island when his truck got stuck in the thick, muddy sand. Not realizing that my grandfather’s truck had gotten stuck, the convoy continued on. My grandfather spent that whole night lying awake with his 9mm clutched between his hands. The next morning when the convoy returned, they dug his truck out and everyone continued on with their duties. Though this story may not be extravagant or gallant, by not giving up his post or deserting, my grandfather’s true character was revealed. As the military code of conduct states, “I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give up my life in their defense.” My grandfather even under the most strenuous and hostile circumstances did not abandon this basic code no matter what his most basic instincts may have told him.

Though situations like the one my grandfather experienced do not occur to everyone, the military does foster the growth of its members and provides them with life altering experiences that will change them for the better. In the past and present, military leaders such as, Patton, Lee, Eisenhower, Grant, Powell, and others, were and are some of the most prominent and highly regarded leaders and members of society of their time. For most people the military is not a career, but rather a stepping stone that provides them with the basic qualities of leadership and citizenship needed to be a successful member of society, which is why I believe that it is one of the most important things a citizen can do.