This post is really about nothing and about everything. This weekend, my wife, son and I went to my parents' house to celebrate my Mother's birthday. After the cake was consumed, I went up into the attic to see what kind of things I would have to move into the house we will be buying soon (well, as soon as we sell our condo). My parents have been kind enough to store things that wouldn't fit in a 2 bedroom condo in downtown Chicago...things like two extra beds, coffee tables, chairs, etc.
Among the furniture, I found my Army 201 (Personnel) file which might make for some hilarious posts sometime, and some other interesting things that I have kept over the years. I even found a box entirely devoted to stuff from the day I stopped being Sergeant Blackfive and started being Lieutenant Blackfive - the day I was commissioned as an Officer in the United Stated Army.
In the box were pictures, scrap books, and letters and cards from friends and family wishing me congratulations (even had a card from Denny Hastert). One of the gifts that I received that day was a Colt Combat Commander (.45 cal) from my grandmother. Yeah, my grandmother. I found her note in the box. It was short and simple - "May this gift protect you and your soldiers. May you use it judiously in defense of our great nation. Love, gram".
On the day I swore an oath, I received one of the best gifts that I have ever received.
The gift was this poem written by my Godfather, The Rev. Carl Peterson:
To Matt on the Occasion of his Commissioning
Twenty some years ago - a borning
that's hard to believe
and now a commission
in the United States Army - Well,
time, dear godson, flows
and surges, sputters and gasps
but never stops
So make the most of what you have.
Grasp the thing you desire.
That is whatever gives you happiness
and then share that in thanksgiving
with those you love.
You have begun, setting your goals,
striding forward, - but remember how
quickly time eludes us. So make
Remember those who gave you parts,
bits and pieces of themselves - you are
the sum and greater than those
whose lives have touched yours.
Be a leader, be wise and foolish,
be always a believer, live in
His eternal changelessness and
know as He loves you, so do we.
At the time, my Uncle Carl was diagnosed with terminal cancer (I didn't know it at the time). It was the last time that I saw him. He died 9 months later. I kept a copy of his poem in my wallet the entire time I spent as an Officer in the Army. Thanks, Uncle Carl - I have learned from the poem - I have tried to make every moment count, I have surrounded myself with true friends and family (they are the same in my book), and I have definitely been both wise and foolish.
Hopefully, you'll get as much out of it as I did.
P.S. Tomorrow, Going Home Part Two - Blackfive's Take on Violence