Let's not forget the other 363 days, too
Monday, May 27, 2013 10:00 PM
I never had any intention of joining a fraternity when I went off to college some hundred or so years ago. Always thought they were for "frat boys" and I thankfully never really saw myself in that light.
However, most of the guys who played football were all in the same fraternity, one that looked, smelled and acted like anything other than a fraternity - especially the smell part. Since it wasn't the preppie crowd we expected, my roommate and I signed up for our own little Animal House experience. I know, I know, a lot of guys my age now say they lived in something like the fictional Delta Tau Chi frat John Belushi and Co. made famous in the 1978 movie. I mentioned smell. All I'll say is that we didn't have running water in the joint for a semester. That push us to the top of the list?
In all seriousness though, there is one fraternity that I truly regret not joining, the U.S. Military. Through no one's fault but my own, I opted to take a newspaper job rather than a stint in the Navy. It was close, at the time. The recruiter in Lafayette promised me great journalism training. I actually boarded a bus and spent a lovely day at the induction center in Indianapolis. But something happened that may have cost Stars & Stripes another reporter, Gail Hamilton, the long-time stellar editor of the Journal Review, offered me a job.
Look, I'm not big on looking back and second-guessing things you can't change now. Without a doubt, I've never regretted going to work for Gaildene Marliss Hamilton. She was a great boss and helped start me out on the right path of a career that has been better to me than I deserve.
Making the decision to zig instead of zag has stuck with me. I missed out on the opportunity to serve my country. I've never forgotten it.
Growing up, all the guys in the neighborhood knew we'd be drafted and do our two years in the Army. Our dad's had done it as did our granddads. But then a zillion things happened, all better left to be explained by historians rather than me. Let's just say that between Viet Nam and the riots and Kent State and the turmoil the country was going through, the draft came to a close before the good folks at Selective Service called my number.
So off to college I went and then off to write for a little weekly newspaper in Zionsville and later the Lafayette Journal & Courier. After not winning a Pulitzer Prize or getting a job offer from Sports Illustrated the first 20 minutes, I pretty much made up my mind to see the world with the Navy. You know what happened then. Like I said, no one's fault or decision but mine.
The men and women who have, and are, serving in the military share a unique bond. They occupy a special and honored place in our society, as well they should. They are the ones who run toward the fire, not away. They live in harm's way. Some of them, no, many of them, give the ultimate sacrifice and never make it back home.
We are safer because they do what they do.
Saying thank you isn't enough. Offering our respect isn't enough. Truth to tell, we can never do enough.
In today's world, it's so easy for us on the sidelines to forget that there has never been a time when our nation's military hasn't either been called on, or stood ready. From the very beginnings about 240 years ago, through revolutions, conflicts, uprisings, two World Wars and battles we know of and those we don't, the men and women who serve this great nation have been there, done that and stood tall doing it.
Memorial Day is over. Veteran's Day is still a few months away. Here's hoping that on every single one of the other 363 days we never forget to appreciate those who serve.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.