Last night's "bam, boom, pop" in celebration of the U.S.A. winning its independence made the entire exercise of "falling asleep" a tad difficult. Dickens did well, Mom slept, but for some reason I felt like I did when serving Sentry Duty in the Army. Making certain the perimeter was indeed secure and free from harm.
Those days in service to our country feels like a couple of lifetimes ago, but the memories are embedded in my brain. I entered the service for two reasons: A) love of country, and B) I wanted to go to college, but funds proved impossible. When I joined the population enjoyed movies such as "Saturday N:ight Fever" and "Private Benjamin". The populace debated the Equal Rights Amendment ferociously.
Upon reflection, I think it safe to say my period in the service leaned more toward Private Benjamin, rather than disco fever. Discipline didn't seem like a problem for me. The drill sergeants shouted, cursed, and cajoled their trainees with wreckless abandon. Some trainees couldn't stand these men and women. It felt, at times, as if the drills hated us. In fact, the undertone throughout basic training seemed like a grudge match with the other side saying, "Oh, so you're equal, eh? OK, so you'll train WITH the men. No more rubber rifles for you!"
Now women in the military perform the same tasks as their male counterparts. Fly an aircraft? No problem. Jump out of perfectly good airplanes for no reason at all? Piece of cake. All these things see their genesis from one thing - choice.
We hold the freedom to choose sacred. Our choices make us who we are. Sometimes we restrict our freedom by giving into fear. To allowing the "what ifs" and "oh no's" to overtake us...hold us hostage...prevent what's deep inside from emerging. Like the military life, choice craves (IMHO) discipline.
Living in this country grants me the liberty to be me - warts and all. I chose to be a writer. I have the freedom to succeed or fall on my sword. Not many folks in other countries can say the same. Indeed, some authors have been exiled, or worse, for their choices.
So, on this Independence Day, I pledge to honor the sacrifices and the freedom prior choices afford me by living each day to the fullest with love, authenticity and gratitude.
I think Judy Benjamin would agree.