It's Remembrance Day, a day to pause and reflect on the role our military and the people who serve play in our lives, past and present.
My dad is a living reminder, having served in the Navy during WWII, as did his two brothers. I was proud and thrilled to follow in his footsteps, albeit in a much smaller, humbler and safer way by joining the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve. This was in the mid-seventies, and it may be hard for younger people to realize this, but at the time, this was a pretty radical thing for a teenage girl to do.
It proved to be one of the best, most important and yes, fun times of my life. I still think of that first summer as the Golden Summer of my Youth. I made one of my best friends in the first couple of days, and we were so tight, people thought we'd known each other before. Nope. Just clicked.
What else did I get from those days, when I was both training and instructing?
Self-discipline. There's no whining when you're given an order (although there can certainly be much complaining in the barracks after). There is no negotiating. You do what you have to do when you have to do it.
There's a time to goof around (in the barracks, before lights out) and a time to get serious (on parade or a training exercise) and you better learn the difference.
Women under stress can do some pretty wacky, vindictive things. I've been criticized by some reviewers (well, okay, Mrs. Giggles) for writing about women who conspire against other women. Or as she says, "The author is very trigger-happy with the evil women gun." Write what you know, Mrs. G. Write what you know.
There are all sorts of arcane rituals/methods available for the shining of shoes. I myself prefer the spit shine, only using water instead of spit.
In a pinch (or when inspection is imminent), you can use sticky tape to hem a skirt.
They will always put the smallest, lightest person to row in the bow of a whaler (a large rowboat, like the ones that carried the harpooners out to the whales). Which makes the bow rise higher out of the water. Which makes it more difficult to row. They did that with me; they did it with my dad. Ah, tradition.
However tense and miserable some of the situations I encountered in the reserves were, I'm well aware I had the Military Lite experience. Even so, it changed and profoundly influenced me.
So on Remembrance Day, I think about the brave men and women who experienced the intensity and camaraderie of the military life which I barely tasted, and who paid for that experience with their lives.