Have you ever felt yourself in a moment, where you know you are about to walk down a path that is pretty significant in your life. Perhaps it is an exciting adventure, and you stop in the moment and draw in the excitement, the anticipation. Both anxious and overjoyed at the possibility of what lies before you on that path.
I encountered the excitement of a new path ahead of me when I made the decision to join the Coast Guard. I felt myself going through the motions of enlisting, testing, medical clearance. Those were just formalities. But, when I stood and took my oath to serve my country, I felt that was where I truly belonged, right at that moment in time. The smell of scuffed sneakers, sweaty t-shirts, and wrinkled jeans. A group of young men and women from hundreds on miles in all directions, mumbling their oath to protect and serve. To be a forever part of this great country. The pride beating so hard in our chests, that it was hard to focus on the oath we were taking. Hanging on every word, as the next word we speak is the path we walk.
I was born in Belgrade, when the country of Yugoslavia still existed. I was adopted by Americans, and given freedom and a life from this great county. There was no thought of paying my respects to the US for a life and freedom by joining the military. There was no obligation. There was the desire to make the choice to serve. I have to be honest, I thought that this would be a a short four years of my life, but those years evolved into 21 years once I stepped off this path. The path was not a smooth one, I fell off a high curb as I stepped out of military service. I stepped off the high curb, tripped, fell and took a few years to get up and brush myself off. Those years I searched for a path to take, a cool quiet comfortable walk, and make my way; a safe place.