July 04, 2004
When I took the Military Science class, the first year of ROTC, we were required to write an autobiography. Most of the students in the class were in their third week of college; I was a senior with a strong background in writing. I had a bit more experience to draw from than the rest of the class. The teacher, our beloved Captain R, told me mine was the best ROTC autobiography he'd ever seen and that he was passing it out to every Soldier he knew. I didn't think it was anything amazing; it was just the truth. I read it again yesterday, and I still feel the same way (though I must resist the urge to revise). Excerpt:
I am one of the oldest students in the MS 100 class, since I find myself rapidly approaching the ripe old age of twenty-two. As a senior in the class, I have been surrounded by people who are just beginning the scholarly journey I started long ago.
The most important part of this journey for me was last year, when I was a student in a French university. I spent an entire year on study abroad, which accounts for my tardy enrollment in Military Science as a senior. This was a pivotal moment in my scholarly life as a French major, because my outlook on the future has been radically changed by this time I spent away from my homeland. I found that France was nice, but it was not home. I felt aimless and rootless. I had a difficult time placing myself in a society into which I did not easily fit. I found myself standing up for my own country and facing people who were hostile to that for which my country stands. I found myself shying from the French thought and becoming more American than I ever imagined I would be.
I had always been a patriotic person. My favorite holiday is Independence Day, and I won the Daughters of the American Revolution award in high school. But once faced with people who did not respect the basic tenets of the country which I held so dear, I found within a great longing for my motherland. I returned from this year in France with a confused sense of what it is I want to become as a French major and a heightened sense of who I am as an American.
And then I began MS 100. Originally, I had just thought that it would be a better option than Health and Wellness. I would learn something to which I had never before been exposed: how the military is arranged and how it runs. I soon found that I enjoyed the class more than I had previously foreseen. On the first day of lab, even without a uniform, I envisioned myself part of something larger than I could fathom. As the cannons blasted and words were read, words of unity, justice, and freedom, I felt so proud. I felt very proud of my country, very proud to call myself an American, and proud to have called myself an amÃ©ricaine in France.
I never imagined that standing there in the group with me on the first day of lab was a young man who would one day be the most important person in my life. I signed up for MS 100 because of the paintball and rappelling; I'm happy to have stayed because of the values the military represents. The closing paragraph of my autobiography is ironic, considering the turn my life took when I met that young man in ROTC.
I had an argument with a foreigner the other day. He comes from a country where military service is mandatory and therefore seen as a burden and a hindrance to young men. Therefore, our opinions on the ROTC program clashed fiercely. What I said, on behalf of my experiences, was that the ROTC is a wonderful program, one that can provide students with a taste for the military, however diluted this taste may be. And through this experience of MS 100, a scholar can decide if he has been called to become a part of this greater collectivity of brave men who devote their lives to the country I cherish so much. I am proud to associate myself with these ideals, even if only for one year.
I believe these things every day of my life; I don't need to act any different today. I'll fly my flag, wear my pins, and be grateful that brave Americans today and yesterday have fought and died for what I cherish. Just like I try to do every other day.
Posted by: Tammi at July 04, 2004 08:22 AM (VsBSK)
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