November 11, 2010

Structure and Purpose

It's Veteran's Day today.  That brings all kinds of thoughts to my mind.  The military has been such an important part of my life.  It still is today. 

In 1967, after two rough years in college preparing for "the ministry," I joined the U.S. Marine Corps and left home to find my place in the world.  A buddy of mine, which I didn't even know that well, came by the house one day and we talked about enlisting.  The Vietnam War was in full swing and we thought it would be better to join the Air Force, but when we got to the recruiting station, the Marines looked better for some reason.  So, off we went 120 days later to Boot Camp.  I never saw my buddy again.

Not to get into a long rendition of stories, and Lord knows there are many of them, I do want to mention the importance of the military in my life.  It gave me structure and a purpose, things a young 20-year-old needed very much.  It also gave me a reason to leave my faith behind and live according to my rules.  I did well in the institutional environment and rose through the ranks about as fast as I left my faith in God.  A prodigal?  Not really!  I knew what I was doing.  I knew the comings and goings of my decision to leave God and family behind was hurtful, but I did it anyway, figuring I would be able somehow to pull myself out of the mire of drugs and broken relationships that followed as night follows the day.  Besides, there was always the military to fall back on, right?  It would always be there for me, right?  Much later I learned that only the Jesus Christ was always there for me.

Anyway, today I'm going to go to my grandson's school to eat lunch with him.  The school is celebrating Veteran's Day by inviting parents and grandparents who are veterans of the armed forces to share a meal with their children.  I certainly have a lot to share with my grandson.  It's amazing to me, though, that after all these years the military is still providing structure and purpose to my life.