On this date eleven years ago, I was in Seattle, wearing a red shirt and blue jeans, sitting in a MEPS station, along with over 200 other men and women. After most of a day of processing, we were taken in groups of twenty-five into a room with an American Flag, as well as the flags of every branch of the military (Marine Corps, Army, Navy, then Air Force). We stood in a makeshift formation while an officer entered the room. We all raised our right hands, and said:
"I, (our name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
A few hours after that, nine of us got on a bus to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where we loaded onto a plane and flew to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. After eight years of faithful service that resulted in my service in Operation Allied Force and service on the DMZ in Korea, among other places, I left the military, bringing with me the experience and pride of knowing I gave back. Service gave me a new language, three college degrees, travel around the world and the country, the opportunity to teach and to learn, and ultimately, a wife and three children I otherwise wouldn't have had. It also gave me the Montomery GI Bill, a $1200 investment that has provided (so far) almost $19,000 towards law school.
I still believe that military service is a good thing. I firmly believe that most Americans would benefit from it. I urge those who haven't yet served who are of age to consider signing up and seeing what it's like to be a part of something bigger than yourself.