Thomas Smith, Ph. D. Director, Honors Program
Hugh LaFollette Cole Chair in Ethics
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
In order to understand everything that follows I think it's important to understand why I joined the Army in the first place. I didn't do it for glory or recognition. I didn't do it because I felt I was a troubled youth in search of some modicum of structure (though, as it turns out, I was to some extent). I didn't do it because I felt an overwhelming sense of patriotism (although I do now). I joined because late in my high school career I learned that I was going to be a father. I'm not sure I can fully emphasize how terrified I was when I learned that fact. It's not something that every 17 year old goes through and I wasn't sure exactly how we were going to handle it. Reading back over these words more than a year after I originally wrote them I feel that maybe I’m underemphasizing things a bit here. As I approach 30 I’ve begun to realize that I needed the Army a lot more than it needed me. I think I needed to get away from home for reasons that will become abundantly clear as you continue to read this. It didn’t matter if it was college, the military or something else-I was leaving as soon as I had the chance. I don’t know how cognizant of that fact I was back then but I realize it now. Regardless, I think what that shows me most is that I was as practical back then as I am now. The Army seemed like the safest path I could have chosen but, as sometimes happens in the course of things, didn’t turn out to be what I originally planned when I enlisted. But things never seem to work out the way we expect them to, right?
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Lovelace, Joshua Adam, "Doing it the Hard Way: My Life as a Story of Hope" (2012). USFSP Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate). 111.