Veterans are an extremely interesting bunch. Today, they make up about one percent of our population. When I was a kid (‘50’s-‘60’s- I was born dead center of the baby boom), nearly every adult male I knew was a veteran. My Dad served in the Army, Mr. Blankenship, next door on the right, served in the Air Force, Mr. Cleveland two doors down served in the Navy, Mr. Knight, next door on the left, served in the Army, Mr. Cochran, diagonally across the street, served in the Army, Mr. Westerlund, directly across the street, served in the Army. The list goes on and on with Uncles and Cousins galore serving in every single branch. At that time, approximately 33% of the adult male population served in the military during WWII and Korea plus another 33% served in some defense industry job or a job deemed vital for national service, such as policing and civil defense. After the draft ended in 1973, the military became all volunteer and the size of the military was slowly decreased with a greater focus on specialized equipment, tactics, smaller units, and special operations, so that today approximately one percent of our population are veterans, including lots of women who have contributed greatly to our defense. I have a niece who is currently active duty in the Marine Corps. Semper Fi!
The military has its very own culture and its own language. For instance, what does Semper Fi in the previous sentence mean? Some already know, but for the others, I’ll give you a second. (Hums the Final Jeopardy tune quietly). That’s correct! It’s an abbreviation of the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, which is Latin for “Always Faithful”. That’s just one example of the different language veterans speak. My younger brother is still active duty Army and we talk on the phone nearly every day. Here’s some typical dialogue from a conversation:
Me: Hey, how was your day?
Bro: Ridiculous. How was yours?
Me: Not too bad. Typical for a Monday. What made yours ridiculous?
Bro: Well, it started out with the O4 calling me and telling me he needed a copy of the DD-214 for Specialist Flatfoot. You know that I’m the S1 NCOIC, so I looked it up and this guy is still active. He is deployed and is still over six months to DEROS and about two years from EAS….
Say what, now???
Translation: Well, it started out with the O4 (Major-a middle grade officer) calling and telling me he needed a copy of the DD-214 (discharge form and paperwork) for Specialist (an enlisted rank) Flatfoot. You know that I’m the S1 (Personnel) NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge), so I looked it up and this guy is still active (still on active duty). He is deployed (typically overseas but could be to another post anywhere in the US) and still has over six months to DEROS (Date Eligible to Return from OverSeas) and about two years from EAS (End of Active Service)
Moral of the story: The Major was asking for something that did not exist and was still two years from existing. In other words, RIDICULOUS!
But do you see the whole different language spoken? It goes much deeper than that because the language is merely an indication of the whole Warrior Culture trained into and practiced in all the branches of the military. Their culture stresses pride, perseverance, discipline, trust, teamwork, sacrifice, and other virtues requiring a relinquishment of personal identity and an embracing of unit identity. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. John 15:13 (NIV) is a practice in the military, not just a philosophical or religious idea.
Stories give form and meaning to our lives