When I was a confused and directionless 18-year old, I decided to enlist in the US Army. My reasons for doing so are irrelevant, but I will say that like many young men, I needed to push the envelope and chose combat infantry. Go big or go home, right? That meant that my training would be hard, strict, and rigorous. And it was.
The first phase of infantry school was to break us down so we no longer thought and acted like civilians. This involved a whole lot of yelling, profanity, running, profanity, and push-ups. There wasn’t much sleep, rest, or downtime. Even meal times were rushed, and we learned how to shove whatever we could into our mouths in the few minutes we were allowed to eat.
It was in the first week of this phase when Thanksgiving came. To be honest, I had forgotten it was Thanksgiving. I was tired, scared, and disoriented. So when the drill sergeants marched us into the mess hall with the usual yelling and profanity, I was surprised to see paper turkey decorations on the tables and the Army’s version of a Thanksgiving turkey meal. Any illusions of this being a festive meal, however, were quickly dashed when we were rushed through the meal in the customary time, shoved what we could into our mouths, and run out the mess hall mere moments later still chewing our food while digesting the yelling and profanity. I can still see those paper turkeys in my mind’s eye. I think they were laughing at us.
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