I Would Gladly Serve Again

Written By: Kim - Apr• 16•11

It was your typical day. Rising at o’dark thirty, getting ready for work and driving to the train station for my commute. I chatted with my train buddies on the platform before we boarded into our own world be it napping, reading, knitting or crossword puzzles. I scanned the headlines and tweeted them out via my iPad. I checked email so my box was empty when I arrived at the office. At the final stop, I waited by the door. I had been sitting for an hour and needed to stretch.

In the seat near me was an elderly gentlemen who reminded me of my Dad. A US Army hat on his head that looked like it was his favorite and pins that told me he served in the military — enlisted. I recognized the insignia of the rank because it was what my father wore when he was active duty: E8. I have a soft spot for veterans since I have fond memories of growing up a military brat. I simply could not ignore this man so I struck up a quick conversation. I am so glad I did.

© Lonnie Bradley via stock.xchang

Like my father, this retired vet had served twice in Vietnam. Unlike my father, it was before the situation there became precarious in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Both he and my Dad had something else in common: US Army career men. This man served 35 years; my Dad, 26. He was now living in the Old Soldiers Home, which is where my Dad said he wants to go when he can no longer live alone. He said the waiting list was a year long, but they had plenty of room for another soldier.

This gentleman, on his way to the hospital, remarked how it tore him up to see our young soldiers in the shape there were in when they were in treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center. This is where returning war vets recoup after being wounded on the battlefront. Battlefront, while an ancient term, is still accurate today no matter what medical advances we have made. These young men and women may survive mortar attacks, IEDs and gun shots to the neck or head, but they often come back never to return to the life they had. Their path is long, hard and heartbreaking.

Nothing will make you realize the sacrifice our troops make until you see someone young enough to be your child, confined to a wheelchair pushing himself around by blowing through a straw. If your eyes do not immediately tear up, check your pulse.

For those of you who did not grow up around the military, you can better believe that the people in it are not in it for the money nor benefits — especially the enlisted troops. They enlist and reenlist for various reasons. When we wrapped up our conversation as the train arrived, he said what many of us will not say once we retire: “I would gladly serve again.”

What an inspiration he was as is anyone who has served in the military. If you do not believe you will look back and say “I would gladly serve again” in your career path, why are you still in it?

 

 

 

Lawyers, Cops, Firemen and Doctors: How Did I End Up Here?

Written By: Kim - Feb• 12•11

I have always been fascinated with television shows about lawyers, police officers and medical/emergency personnel. Years before anyone coined the phrase “reality television” shows like “LA Law,” “Hill Street Blues,” “CHiPs,” M*A*S*H and “St. Elsewhere”, “China Beach” were shows I grew up watching. ER was the last medical drama I watched until “Grey’s Anatomy” was launched. Once ER’s Dr. Mark Greene died of brain cancer and I bawled like a baby, I just couldn’t and didn’t want to watch the show anymore.

My current television DVR list includes “The Good Wife,” “Private Practice” and now “The Chicago Code.” The only show I can recall watching recently about the publishing industry was “Ugly Betty.” Other than the Dad on “Eight is Enough” who served as a newspaperman and “Lou Grant ” from the 1980s and 1970s respectively, I do not know of any other shows centered around the publishing business. I get it. We’re just not as exciting. We don’t make the news; we cover it.

You would think that my interest in these types of television shows would have steered me toward a different career path. What keeps me interested in good television shows is not what the characters do for a living, but how the characters interact; what they say; the decisions they make. The writer determines what the characters say. Therein lies my passion and true calling.

When I look back, the signs were there that I would end up in the communications or publishing world: asking my Mom for and pointing to books when I rode in the shopping cart as a toddler; taped conversations to my Dad while he served in Vietnam; long love letters to my parents as I left for college; sentimental or funny cards for special occasions — I only pick out the ones that really speak to me.

© Tey Teyoo via stock.xchng

Becoming a wordsmith was bound to happen. I just didn’t see it at first: I wanted to be a doctor. But the chemistry, biology and calculus classes left me realizing that I could not take three more years of these kinds of courses plus medical school. Since I was working part-time retail through college, I thought perhaps a business degree would fit nicely in to my life plans. I took one accounting class. Enough said. The spring of my sophomore year, I took a speech communications class. Loved it and the professor encouraged me to consider a journalism degree. I had finally found a degree that would lead me down a career path.

Despite the fact that I was making half of what the marketing degree graduates were and regardless of the ups and downs of the publishing industry; I have never regretted my choice. I have met amazing people along the way and learned their stories. I then told those stories to you. How many folks out there can say that?

Publishing professionals were the first social networkers — we just didn’t call it that.