By in Holidays

Service to Country

From the time I was about 6-years-old, I had a very keen sense of patriotism. Two years later, I was in a Girl Scout uniform, and involved in flag ceremonies.

In those days, we were taught about service to our communities, our country, and our fellow man. In fact, I believed I "owed my country"; my country did not owe me a thing.

I dreamed of joining the military many years before I was able to do so. I had to wait until 1973, after I turned 18. Only men were allowed to join at an earlier age.

On August 23rd, I took my first oath of enlistment, when I joined the Air Force. I was not even two weeks into my 18th year of life. I left the Air Force two years later.

In 1976, I was back in a Navy uniform, having joined the Navy Reserve. Six months later, I was back on active duty with the regular Navy, and I served until November 1989.

Author owned.

I did not join the military to find a job to pay my bills. Nor did I join because I was looking for a way to get education for free.

Pay was simply a bonus for me doing what I wanted to do. When I enlisted in the Air Force, I made just over $300.00 before taxes each month. That was about $1.75 an hour.

I also had a metal bunk in an old barracks, and I ate in the chow halls. We were not allowed to do anything other than that, if we were unmarried in those days.

But I was happy to do it. Because I did it "to serve my country." I never thought of anything else.

Today's enlistees come in for many different reasons; most of them do not share in what was my 18-year-old idealistic vision of patriotism. I hear the majority say that they joined "because their were no jobs out there," or "I will put up with four years so I can get my college paid for." Some do come in for a desire of "service."

But no matter the reasons that each and every one who joins the military, all take an oath to " and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic...(to) bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and...(to) obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed ..."

Those today may not quite understand or appreciate those words in the same way that I do. Regardless, on this Veterans Day, I honor all my fellow veterans, as they do not realize what a rare breed they are. And I will be eternally grateful to all who have served before, with, and after me.

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As of 2014, 7.3 percent of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives.The overall percentage varies by gender — 1.4 percent of all living female Americans have ever served in the armed services, compared to 13.4 percent of all male Americans. ( Source: Veterans Administration )

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Copyright © 2015 Coral Levang

Image Credit » Author owned

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Rufuszen wrote on November 11, 2015, 7:20 AM

I joined up because I like aircraft and get a chance to travel

CalmGemini wrote on November 11, 2015, 8:38 AM

Thank you for the article which let us have a glimpse of your service to your country.I salute you for your Patriotism,which is becoming rare these days.

morilla wrote on November 11, 2015, 8:51 AM

Duty? Honor? Country? Patriotism? Service? What deliciously anachronistic notions that would do a lot of people a lot of good today. Now, if I could get you to generate a timpani... Thank you for your service. Happy Veteran's Day.

DWDavisRSL wrote on November 11, 2015, 8:52 AM

I joined for a variety of reasons, first among them, a desire to serve.

markgraham wrote on November 11, 2015, 9:58 AM

I did sign up to go into the Navy, but I think God had other plans for me. I ended up with pneumonia and fractured knees and received a medical discharge. I was assigned to Great Lakes Naval Training Center in December.
God was right for now I am becoming a Doctor in Education and plan to write curriculum for many levels.

CoralLevang wrote on November 11, 2015, 1:08 PM

What year(s) were you in NTC Great Lakes?

markgraham wrote on November 11, 2015, 3:59 PM

December 1982 right after high school graduation. I was not in very long due to fractured knees and having pneumonia.

MegL wrote on November 11, 2015, 5:59 PM

Those are great photographs. You certainly look happy and full of life in them.

Paulie wrote on November 11, 2015, 11:35 PM

May I ask why you left the Air Force after only two years and then changed over to the Navy?

CoralLevang wrote on November 12, 2015, 1:01 AM

Because when I was married, and then became pregnant, while on active duty, I had to put in for a waiver to stay in. It was just changing, but I had a 1st Sgt who gave me grief. So did my husband, at that time. (We split up less than two years later.) I joined the Navy Reserve October 31, 1976, so I could still be an Air traffic controller, as the AF Reserve did not have them. I put in to go regular Navy, and I was allowed to do so on April 29, 1977 on a waiver 2-year probationary enlistment. The RE code I was given when I got out of the AF, due to pregnancy (in those days) required a waiver to come back in at that time.

Paulie wrote on November 12, 2015, 1:20 AM

Thank you very much for the detailed explanation.

CoralLevang wrote on November 12, 2015, 11:58 AM

I was in New Orleans at that time. I was in Great Lakes from 1987 to 1989.

CoralLevang wrote on November 12, 2015, 12:01 PM

Yes, I grew up with that, and it still runs through my veins, though not as idealistic as it once was. Cynicism has its way of creeping in. LOL I do not , however, play the timpani, though I have beat on one a time or two in concert band. This photograph was of me playing the cello pans in the Navy Steel Drum Band.

CoralLevang wrote on November 12, 2015, 12:03 PM

Thank you, MegL . (Age 18, and nearly 28)

morilla wrote on November 12, 2015, 12:31 PM

Remember that cynicism and realism are two sides of the same coin. Okay. A timpani with a Carnival or Calypso beat then...

Last Edited: November 12, 2015, 12:35 PM

markgraham wrote on November 12, 2015, 12:55 PM

In those years I was living in Suffolk, Virginia starting my long college education that had some detours but is finally culminating in a doctorate and a writing/teaching career.

markgraham wrote on November 12, 2015, 12:58 PM

If I would have been able to stay in I would have been a Hospital corpsman.

CoralLevang wrote on November 12, 2015, 1:28 PM

I might argue that the stamp on each side looks very much the same. emoticon :winking: