When I joined the US Navy in 1960 I was motivated by several things:
1) I knew I would be drafted into the Army because I had decided to not return to college that fall and had no desire to sleep on the ground and eat cold rations while marching who knows where, I wanted to have decent food and a bed to sleep in at night, so I thought the Navy was a better option
2) I had to get away from Marshall County, Ky and try to figure me out without the constant over-protective and watchful eyes of my family. My Mom (God bless her sweet soul) was committed to marrying me off to a girl I had dated in college but was not "in love" with to that extent
3) I figured that since we were not at war I could reasonably expect to live through the experience and might even learn something.
By the time I finished boot camp I had learned so much about the Navy and naval tradition I was, and will forever be, a lifelong admirer of all that it means to wear the uniform of the US military. All my reasons for joining up became dim memories as I adjusted to the routine of shipboard life and slowly understood the real ramifications of where I was and what I was doing.
A few years ago I watched a Discovery Channel special about the newly commissioned USS Ronald Reagan and was absolutely spellbound by the vast difference from my own shipboard experience. For one thing they actually had women sailors aboard that beautiful vessel and they were performing most of the same functions as the men. And doing so with great skill and confidence. Made me very proud to know how far the Navy has come since my own experience. As I watched that documentary I could not hold back the tears of joy and admiration for the crew of that mighty weapon of war and recalling my own days aboard the USS Intrepid, which was about one fourth the size of the Reagan.
One of the ships I was privileged to serve on, the USS Mount McKinley AGC7, is now a NASA museum in New York harbor. The Rose and I plan to go to New York in the near future and stepping foot once more on the quarterdeck of the MtMac is definitely on our agenda.
To all my friends who get so caught up in the ups and downs of the political fussing and fighting in DC, please always know that our country is greater than ANYONE's political agenda. Having spent many weekends in Washington, D.C. I can testify to the greatness of what America really is. You can feel it all around you as you explore the museums, the monuments and especially Arlington National Cemetary.
Every year on this day I am proud of our country and feel very grateful to all those who still believe in who we are as a nation and appreciate that freedom always comes at a price. My constant prayer is that God our Father, in whom we still trust, will continue to bless America. HALLELUJAH!