Friday, November 11, 2011

Honor and Courage

     While watching General Colin Powell be interviewed yesterday, I got to thinking about my past. He spoke about serving in the military with honor. I admittedly had never looked at service to the government/military as something to do with honor. Since one signed up and was paid to perform, I thought it was just a job. When I had joined, I was 18 and really didn't have anything to look forward to in life. I wasn't taught to think about college and I was more of a follower than a leader.
     It was 16 years later that I began changing my life for what I consider, better pastures.  Looking back, I had grown up in a single parent household with absolutely no supervision...none, zero, nada. I was involved in a lot of criminal activity at a very young age, and if there is such a thing as luck, I had an abundance; something or someone was looking over my shoulder. At 15, I should have been killed in a stolen car incident. If it hadn't been a Lincoln Continental with a very long front end, the police told me that I would have been dead. Six months of probation didn't stop me from meddling in things illegal; I never spent one minute in a jail cell and continued to be a manipulative SOB. 
     Divulging all of this information isn't by any means to ease my conscience because, truth be known, I lived the life I did, made it through and have a lot of experience to draw from. This is also not to say that I skated free and clear from any of my actions. What goes around does come around. I have had my car stolen with valuables free for the taking, I have been burglarized. I have seen family members brought down by drugs. Years upon years, I subconsciously punished myself for the crimes I'd committed, but could never truly recognize them...until, I was roughly 34 years of age. One might say, I was awakened.
     Today, I have an abundance of Integrity. I value the experiences I've gone through and recognize exactly why I lied, cheated, stole and manipulated my way through my younger days. I'm actually thankful for the fact that I know exactly where the very first compromising of my integrity began; the impetus for my wandering ways started at 5 years old. If you met me today, you would probably think me to be very honorable because I reach out to assist people in making great changes in their lives. I write books that dig deep into one's psyche and explain why we do the things we do. I coach people in businesses because I understand the freedom self-employment allows. If I hadn't changed myself, I would most likely not be able to help others understand that change can happen instantly; if one wants it enough.
     So what does all of this have to do with honor and courage? Well, when I left the military, it was because I had manipulated my way out. I received a General discharge with other than honorable conditions. My fellow soldiers at the time told me that I would become a bum and that I would never be hired for a job, ever! Three years later I was given a level 1 Secret Clearance by the DOD while working at Hughes. After 3.5 years, I left Hughes to work for myself and never looked back. Still, always in the back of my mind was the military. Here it is 32 years later and I have certain thoughts about our government and what it means to serve, something I was admittedly, at the time, too immature to do. People who say that they don't regret their past actions because they learned from them, well, yes, they do regret them; as I do. I see the young men and women who are laying their lives on the line everyday, and I think of their courage. How scared they must be, yet they do what they have to do, and with honor.
     I regret not having integrity or honor, or even being taught from a young age what it meant to have honor. I have never been in a scenario where I've truly had to be courageous, so I can't say that I am really that brave. I work to understand why the world is still in a perpetual mode of war and believe that intelligence should have ceased all fighting, but also understand that maybe the world isn't ready for peace. I sometimes think that it's not until a family member or friend comes home in a casket, that people really stop to honor the courageous soldiers that face a mountain of adversity each and every day. Though I have my personal regrets, I so appreciate the veterans who move forward to protect what I have often taken for granted, my freedom.
     My hat is off to you, the solders throughout the world that fight for our liberty. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.         

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