THE MILITARY REALLY NEVER LEAVES YOU
It feels good
to go back to a military base or post and to be called by your
previous rank, but odd to be in civilian clothes, walking among the servicemen
and servicewomen going about their duties as we once did, years ago.
for all its flaws, 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.
exists behind the gates of every military facility an institutional
understanding of respect, order, uniformity, accountability and dedication
that becomes part of your marrow and never, ever leaves you.
Personally, I 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.
You 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 that looks like a mirror as it stretches to the
endless horizon. You miss the sight of troops marching in the early
morning mist, the sound of boot heels thumping in unison on the sidewalks,
the bark of sergeants and the sing-song answers from the squads as they pass by
romanticize military service is to be far removed from its reality,
because it's very serious business, especially in times of war.