Hello. Mike here. Took me an entire month to get around to this, but better late than never, and I’m going to try to be more studious about filling in the blog posts here from now on; Kim does an excellent job, and works her butt off, and I often take her for granted. Thank you, Kim, from the bottom of my heart.

So. September 11th.

Actually September 11th was part of the reason I ended up joining the Navy, and going to college, and I’m not exactly sure if I ever shared this with anyone in particular but it seems like a good note to remember the day by. After all, if a forest gets burned, sometimes the foliage that grows back is more beautiful for it, and I think people are a little like that as well. I think September 11th, rather than having the Terrorists’ intended effect, planted as many positive seeds in this country than negative ones, and one of those seeds took hold in me.

I went home after watching the towers go down in the library room of my middle school, and I told my grandfather that I wanted to join the Army. I was pretty adamant about it at the time, though I don’t believe he took a thirteen year old very seriously. A few years later in High School, when an army recruiter was passing by, I handed him my name. At seventeen, I wanted my grandfather to sign me a waiver. I wanted to go and fight. I felt like it was the right thing to do. Though that would lead me to disappointment down the road, more times than I can recall or count, it was a strong feeling at the time.

So my grandfather, a Naval veteran of WWII, made me a deal.

My grandparents were not wealthy by any means, and my family has always been firmly middle class until recent times, but he told me he’d pay for my college if I’d agree to take an ROTC officer program instead. So when I graduated, I went to college. Man, did I make a mess of that, but it set me on another path entirely.

I joined the Air Force ROTC down in Carbondale, Illinois, and I went to college for about a year and a half. As it turned out, the ROTC were the only classes in which I particularly excelled. I ended up in a minor leadership position, which rotated, and I can’t remember exactly what it was called – I had a lot of fun sitting down with my detachment members and planning pranks against the other flights. I could march, recite the slogans, all of that pretty nonsense that has nothing to do with actual work, but was a lot of starry eyed fun for a boy my age.

I had a relationship go bad on me in the meanwhile. My grades were suffering, I was on an academic probation list by the second year, and I had a serious decision to make – did I buckle down to my studies, as an English major, or did I go the way of one of our flight members, and just up and enlist instead of waiting?

I’m sorry to say I disappointed my Grandfather. I declined what was essentially, for me, a free ride through college, found a Naval recruiter, and I dropped out of college (the first time) and enlisted.

I’ve had so many experiences involving the service since then, good and bad, as most things tend to be. I’d like to think, for those four years, that I gave good service in spite of myself. But September 11th put the idea in my head to go, and so I went.

That’s how I honored them.