I read in the news that an 87-year-old grandmother in Oak Cliff received an invitation to join the Army. She was interested in the $20,000 enlistment bonus and the medical care, but she said, ďI donít like to get up early.Ē
It appears to me that sheís lucky to be able to get up at all. I have a ways to go before I reach 87 and Iím having trouble already.
The Army did admit they made a mistake mailing her that invitation, but itís certainly not their first mistake. They took me.
A couple of years ago, I fell off my back porch, bounced off a tree and landed on my back, which was already damaged from a previous fall. I pulled up several small trees in the process of getting vertical again. Iím beginning to think that a horizontal position is my natural state.
Having spent two terms in the military, I can advise Granny that thereís a lot more to the Army than getting up early. She might have trouble getting over the obstacle courses. I have found that at my age, everything is an obstacle course, including back porches.
They also require that you keep your shoes shined to a high gloss. I canít even reach mine. They also have those 30-mile hikes with a full field pack. The pack they refer to is not a pack of Camels. Once around Coggin Park has become a day-trip for me without a pack of anything.
I also remember during my times in the service that a rather mean sergeant was always giving orders to either ďFall in,Ē or ďFall out.Ē The word ďfallĒ causes my back to start hurting.
Of course, when I was in the Air Corps during World War II, we were not required to do a lot of those things, but I had to crawl into the ball turret which hung out from the bottom of our B-17 bomber. I also had to get out.
Iím almost sure that today, if I ever got into the thing, they would have to bury me in it. Of course, Granny wouldnít have to worry about that. There are no more B-17s in use. I think they stopped using them when they stopped using me.
They also didnít pay me $20,000 during my entire time in the military. Things have sure changed a lot in 50 years, including me.
There is a long list of things I havenít mentioned that Granny would have to put up with. They probably still serve salmon salad in the mess halls on Friday. Back then, Friday was the day the post exchanges did a good business in junk food. If youíve never had any of the Armyís versions of salmon salad, youíve been living right.
There are other things Granny probably doesnít know about. She canít go home when she wants to, or any other place without special permission. The best I remember, I told the Army where they could go a time or two. It didnít help matters any.
Granny was delighted though that the Army was sending her a knit cap for filling out the form. Had they accepted her, she might have won some medals to show her grandkids and gotten free medical care from the Veterans Administration upon release, along with the $20,000.
That sure beats a knit cap.
Harry Marlinís column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletinís Viewpoint page. E-mail him at pilgrimB17@verizon.net. his column was originally published in 2006.