So, every year my friend Laurie sends me a Veteran’s Day card and thanks me for serving. I have never loved my country more than when I was living in another country and serving her. It’s not like I was in a third world country or that there was an active war going on, but there was danger enough from the occasional terrorist threat, or bombing and I was out of my country for three long years. I remember towards the end of my time in the service walking through the zoo in Nuremberg and seeing an American eagle. It made me homesick and it made me unhappy to see it caged. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE zoos, so it was just the Eagle being caged. The symbol of my country.
I left college when I ran out of money and energy for the work. Unable to find a job anywhere (that I was willing to do), I signed up. Yeah, the theme song got to me, “Be all that you can be, Keep on reaching, Keep on growing. Be all that you can be, Because we need you, in the arrrrrrmy.”
Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood (aka Fort Lost In The Woods) was an experience. This is exactly what my barracks looked like. I was in a room of eight women. Middle of winter in the middle of the Ozarks. Oh, joy. It was soooo cold! I learned that people are often full of bluster and that if I don’t believe in myself no one else will either. It was overall a good experience.
Then I spent ten weeks at Legal Assistants School at Fort Harrison (Indianapolis) Indiana. It was a ten week party and I had a great time. Then I got my orders for my first duty station. Colorado Springs, Colorado. I was disappointed not to have gotten the Presidio (San Francisco), but I got over it and got into the idea of Colorado. Horses, mountains and John Denver. Rocky Mountain High!
My first weekend there I went for a horse ride through Red Rocks Canyon (now sadly a housing development). I was sure grateful the horse knew what it was doing because I sure didn’t! It was beautiful and so different to any place I’d remembered seeing before (although I’d lived in Kansas and visited Texas). Once I got my first car (Bert – an Opal Isuzu) I spent a lot of time driving up in the mountains. One of my favorite trips was to Telluride. Beautiful, beautiful country. I saw Al Jarreau at Red Rocks in Denver. Somehow never made it to the Molly Brown house in Denver. Visited the art museum though. I spent most of my time at the theater on post either being in or working on plays. Mostly musicals.
I married and got my orders switched from Hawaii to Germany so that we could be together versus opposite sides of the planet. I was not thrilled about the idea of Germany. Too many episodes of Hogan’s Heroes and WWII history to be too excited, but I was excited about being in a foreign country.
I enjoyed it. The German people I met weren’t hugely different than us. Some good, some bad. All just trying to get through their day to day lives. I grew to deeply love the couple that watched my first born (Heidi and Manfred). They spoke no English and I spoke rudimentary German, but we’d scramble for “das buch!” when we got stuck (the dictionary) and work it out. One of my favorite memories is a night of playing Yahtzee. “Knupfel” in German. Well apparently Mannfred was very good at the game because he spent the night yelling, “Knupfel!” It was a hoot. I really enjoyed my time there and am very grateful that I had the experience. I left the Army much more patriotic than before I joined and I remain ready to,
“… stand up next to you and defend her still today. Cause there ain’t no doubt, I love this land. God bless the USA!”