A Moment to Reflect

As we enter into the summer months, this Memorial Day I reflect on…well, a lot of things.  But most of them involve gratitude.  As we honor our war dead, I am a relic of a very small slice of American history.  The National Archives states:  Men born from March 29, 1957 – December 31, 1959 were not required to register with Selective Service because the registration program was suspended when they would have reached age 18.  I fall in that very, very narrow window.  I grew up fearing the draft and the possibility of being shipped off to Vietnam against my will.  Instead, I became one of the few Americans who never even had the chance to own a draft card.

We had watched the national lottery to find out who was to be “called up” in a friend’s farmhouse in December, 1969.  My number?  86.  That would have secured me a spot if the war was still going on when I turned 18. 

The war ended.  The draft ended.  The registration system ended.  And I became one of the few folks in that 2-and-a-half-year window who never had to register with Selective Service.

It’s a weird blessing. 

I had zero desire to serve in the military.  I didn’t see the value.  As a much older man now, I have undying respect for every individual who puts on the uniform to serve our country.  Living just blocks from a military installation, camo is the color of the day on many days at the local shopping center.  I consult with those who serve and sense their dedication and commitment.  I’ll never know that level of allegiance. 

Because I now see these individuals on a daily basis, I realize that they are a special breed.  Granted, most of the personnel who serve at Fort Detrick, MD are scientists, researchers and logistics specialists; they all know they could be called up at any point in time to give of their time, talent and treasure.  On a daily basis, they already give up some of their basic freedoms to adopt the culture and mores of the service. 

They follow the rules, and serve their organizations.  And this weekend, they honor their own. 

Every night in my neighborhood, at 10:00 p.m., you can hear “Taps” echoing through the speakers over at the base.  Every night, I am reminded of the funerals I have attended where those who served were “sent off” with that simple bugle call.  But this weekend, it has a special meaning.  Not only does it mean that day is done, it’s a reminder of how grateful we all should be for those who served and have given the last full measure of devotion.

Happy Memorial Day.  Join me in gratitude.

Carl Pritchard, PMP®, PMI-RMP® is honored to have a father and father-in-law who both served in the U.S. Air Force, and an uncle who served in the U.S. Navy.   Thanks, gentlemen.  He welcomes your comments at carl@carlpritchard.com