Today is Veterans’ Day in the US, and Armistice Day everywhere else in the civilized world. 2014 is the hundredth anniversary of “the great war.” Write what you know about World War I. Do you have any relatives who served in the military? Anyone currently? Do you have to work today? Go to school?
Oh my. I was trying to figure out what I should write about, here. I’m glad to see World War I getting attention this week, again. It still affects so many things in the world. I heard someone say that it really wasn’t over until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. While I initially agreed with that assessment, look at what’s gone on with the “Arab Spring,” and other places in the Middle East.
So many of the things going on are due to division of the spoils between the British and the French during and after the war. Why is Iraq even a country? Syria?
But, back to the prompt. At least one of my great-grandfathers was an Army officer during World War I. My great grandmother had some interesting stories about how pretty much everyone in his Company went and married during their time (a week?) between training and deployment to France. They were married nearly fifty years.
Neither of my grandfathers served in World War II, both being too young. Both were in the Navy in the late 40s. My maternal grandfather left the reserves after my mother was born. As a merchant mariner, my paternal grandfather was still a reservist during Korea.
My dad turned down an appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy, in favor of an Army ROTC scholarship. I found out, recently, that this was part of the rift between them, and played a role in my grandfather’s absence at my parents’ wedding. I didn’t notice that until a few years ago, when my wife was looking at photos my maternal grandfather had.
My dad was commissioned in the Army right at the end of Vietnam, and served until 1997, retiring as a Colonel.
As for relatives, the only one who is currently serving is my sister-in-law’s husband, who is in the Navy.
As for me, I earned an Air Force ROTC scholarship in high school. Since I didn’t have perfect vision, they weren’t going to let me fly. They were also going to select my major for me. Yes, I had some influence in the selection, but the decision ultimately would not have been mine. After four years of ROTC, I would have been expected to serve four years active duty, but they could have extended that to eight. When I finally got off active duty, I would spend four years in the reserves.
Because of my dad’s active duty status when I graduated, finding an undergraduate school was odd. I was technically a Mississippi resident, but I’d been born in Florida. I tried to get in-state tuition at several Florida schools. The only one that approved me was the University of West Florida, which considered me in-state on account of their proximity to my Mississippi address. They didn’t have Air Force ROTC. Florida State, who’d accepted me, had Air Force ROTC, but wouldn’t give me in-state tuition.
So, as a seventeen year-old kid, I’m looking at paying more as an out-of-state student than taking something here in Virginia, where I qualified for in-state tuition because my mother had worked for two years…. I wasn’t exactly amped about devoting the next sixteen years to the Air Force. So, off to CNU, and try to win an Army ROTC scholarship. Of the around seventy cadets, I think one got a scholarship. Since it was apparent that I wouldn’t get one, I left ROTC as a sophomore.