2006 NCO of the Year Essay
So, I was selected as the NCO of the year for my brigade last month. Which means I have to go on to the state level, for which I was required to write an essay titled, "Why I Am A Soldier In The Tennessee Army National Guard". For lack of anything better to post, and because I've already spent time and effort writing this, here is my final draft. I hope you like it, because it's all you're getting for now. I'm sorry I haven't been as faithful as I promised earlier, but I had good intentions anyway.
Why I am a Soldier in the Tennessee Army National Guard
From a purely human point of view, it is difficult to comprehend immediately why anyone would want to join the military. The animal instinct in all of us is to avoid danger, conflict, and hardship, and to protect and be concerned with one’s personal comfort and safety and that of one’s close family above all else. Why should I want to assist another unless there is some direct benefit for my own self? Sometimes in the last few years I’ve questioned my own motivations, and pondered that which some might call a lapse in judgment that ultimately led to my enlistment. Having considered it carefully, I’ve compiled this list of several types of reasons:
Selfish Reasons; There are several perks related to joining, from college money and enlistment bonuses, free job training, travel to new and varied places, job benefits such as medical and dental coverage, and a steady income. There are many life experiences in the Army that are scarce to non-existent in other fields, such as riding in a Blackhawk helicopter or an M1 Abrams tank, firing a 155mm howitzer, and getting to fire an M-16 as one of your annual job requirements. These are all good reasons, and I admit that selfish reasons played an influential part in my decision to join the Army National Guard.
Personal Reasons; One fact that had a major influence in my decision to enlist was that a close friend of mine had decided to join the National Guard, and I didn’t want him to be able to say that he had gained all of the aforementioned perks, plus the travel and adventure, and that I was forced to watch from the ooutside while he had all the fun. Also, there has been a great history of service in both sides of my family since the founding of our country. Both of my grandfathers served in the Army in past wars, CPL William Cox as a tank gunner in Europe during WWII, and PFC Thomas McGuyer as a medic in the Korean War. I’ve had many other extended family members serving in various capacities in every conflict since the Revolutionary War, and I saw serving in the Tennessee Army National Guard as a way to honor their memory and uphold this multi-generational tradition of service.
Core reason; For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a very deep rooted love for the United States and what she stands for. My upbringing was conservative Christian, and I’ve been taught growing up that the United States is unique in the history of the world, in that we were founded on Ideas and Principles, rather than based on who has the biggest army or who could throw their weight around the hardest. We are in a struggle now against an enemy that seeks not just to kill our bodies and destroy us as a nation, but they seek to destroy the very principles we were founded on, and to erase even the vaguest memory of these principles. We are not in a war fought with bullets and bombs, but rather, it is a titanic clash of ideas, of worldviews concerning the nature of man and his relationship to God and his fellow man. The deepest, most central reason why I enlisted is that I wanted to advance and protect these principles of ours, our original worldview that declares man is a free creature under God. I love our United States, and I want her to shine forever as an example of how mankind can live together in a free society.
There are many answers to the question asked at the beginning, all of them real and valid, and all played a part on my decision to join. However, when you “fry the fat off of it”, as my uncle says, I joined because I wanted to do my part to serve. I have no illusions about being able to fix all the problems in the world, or even to fix all the very real challenges just in my own hometown. My hope is that I’m able even in the smallest of capacities, to make some difference for the better, so that people can look at where I’ve been and say it was a better place because I was there.