I just happened to look at the calendar a few minutes ago and realized today was an anniversary of sorts for me. Thirty-six years ago today, I was spending my first night as a US soldier at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Not much of it really stands out in my memory anymore. We were policed up at the Columbia airport and shuttled to the reception station in a pale green military van.
Once there, we were each given a brown paper bag with two ham sandwiches, a bag of chips, several cookies, an apple in it and some juice to drink. We drew linen and were taken to a big dorm-like bay sleeping area, given about 10 minutes to get squared away and then the lights were out.
I remember lying there amid the soft buzz of everyone talking; too excited to go to sleep just yet. The room grew strangely quiet as off in the distance over loud speakers Taps began to play.
Somehow, it was at that moment that I first actually realized where I was and why. That bugle call's somber duel nature brought on the realization that not only was it used to put soldiers to rest at night, it was also used to usher them into eternal rest.
I don't think I was the only one to have those thoughts as the bay stayed quiet after it was done playing. Our country was still at war in Vietnam and the serious nature of the oath we swore that morning took on a whole new meaning.
It was in those few brief moments of time, initiated by a simple song, that I laid my boyhood aside and became a man.