... to me! I'm a veteran of the Cold War. The longest war in American history, spanning seven US Presidents. Ronnie Reagan was my commander-in-chief. While you were sitting around back here in the homeland listening to Dire Straits and Steve Winwood, I was one of the soldiers waiting to defend the Fulda Gap from an invasion of Soviet tanks. And now the only thanks I get is a consistently incredulous, "You were in the Army?" Yes, I was and I served with pride.
I did, actually, and though I was being a bit cheeky above, the threat from the Soviets felt very real at times. Seems long ago and almost totally irrelevant now, but it was a wonderful time in my life. One of the best things I have done for myself. While half of my friends were at the The University of Oregon, a slightly more enhanced version of high school, and the other half were safely cocooned in elite institutions of higher learning around the country, I was learning a technical job in addition to being a soldier alongside young guys from all over the country and its possessions serving under men that had fought in Vietnam. I spent my weekends in Paris, Berlin, Munich, Venice and many other cities. I skied the Alps. I drove my Mercedes on the Autobahn daily. I dated women from all over Europe aged 16-30. And for just two years of my life, that was hardly a prison sentence as I've outlined, I received almost $30,000 for college. In the early 90s, that paid for two years at a private school or four plus living expenses at a public university.
Since 9/11 and the mockery of all that we've been doing in the Middle East, I'm a lot less patriotic than I once was. But there was a time that I put a mean spit shine on my boots and a starched crease in my BDUs. As I stood at attention holding a salute at reveille each morning, I did so with intense pride.