In August of 1987 my family waited anxiously with me at the gate as I waited to board a plane taking me to U.S. Army Basic Training. I was nervous, excited and a little scared at the adventure that awaited me.
The first few days of basic training are probably the worst because regardless of how much you think you know about the military, there’s little you can do to actually prepare you for the culture shock of entering military service.
Drill sergeants fill every minute of every day with some sort of training leaving very little down time. What little down time we did have was usually spent cleaning, shining or organizing something but every once in a while we had some fun time. One thing my platoon enjoyed was listening to the radio or as our drill sergeant called it, “going to the bar.”
Going to the bar meant we could listen to the radio as long as everyone was in the push-up position, known as the front lean and rest position, with their feet elevated on a support bar of the upper bunk of our beds which was about four feet in the air.
At first these sessions would only last a minute or two but as everyone got stronger, we could usually make it through a couple of songs before guys started to drop. Drill Sergeant Heflin was the brain child of going to the bar and he had great affinity for Lee Greenwood’s beautiful anthem Proud to be an American. In fact, he liked it so much that he made the entire platoon learn the song and often made us regale our instructors with our a cappella rendition.
So for all my fellow brothers in arms, I offer you this salute.