It is easy to do the right thing when one feels noble and proud, it is harder when time goes by and you begin to feel the cold, wet, dirt of the trenches. I am sure many men who enlisted felt the same way. I feel a bit like that now.
My dad was drafted half way through his senior year of high school because he had enough credits to graduate. He left behind his home, his baseball team and probably a sweet heart or two. The army trained him to be small arms mechanic and when he arrived in Germany right after the war ended, there wasn't much need for gun repair, so they slapped some sergeant stripes on him and made him in charge of the motor pool. He said it was a pretty easy gig. He has lots of fun stories, but he said nothing can erase the smell from the concentration camps or the blank looks on peoples faces.
Unlike me, my dad is an agnostic. He was raised Baptist, but was blinded by all the hypocrisy. Growing up he always said I could believe in whatever I wanted, so I went around town visiting all my friend's churches. I prayed nightly. For a time, in Jr. High, I connected to my mom's heritage and went to the Catholic Church. It was during this time, sitting all alone in a church full of people, that my faith started to grow. I lit candles and prayed for a dying uncle, I believed. God was close. Later, as a young parent I went to a Lutheran church, and still later to a non denominational church. Now, I don't attend church as regularly, but Jesus is still close. His hand never lets me go.
I ask my dad how it feels to enter the shadow of death without faith in something Higher. I know I couldn't do it.
This post was supposed to be about missing the ranch, which I do, but it surprised me and went somewhere else. Instead of fixing it and changing it and re-titling it, I think I will just publish.