I'm a civilian now, a very happy one. I spent the last four years proudly serving in the Marine Corps and now it is time for me to find a new direction in my life. That new direction begins tomorrow when I get on a plane and fly to South America for a month. I'm excited to travel, to see a different part of the world, to see and meet new people, new cultures and new ideas. And all without my finger on a trigger or the hair raised on the back of my neck. Hopefully I will spend many more months in the coming years travelling, wandering.
What's next? I can't say I really know. I have applied to four graduate business programs- Stanford, Northwestern, UCLA and USC. All have great entrepreneur programs, which is something, somewhere, and at sometime that I'd like to get into. Three are in California, where my heart currently resides, one is in Chicago, near my family. I won't find out for a few more months the decisions on those applications, but I'm feeling fairly confident. Of course, I'm not sure I've ever applied for anything and not felt like I was the perfect candidate, something that's sure to disappoint me at some point soon.
I do know that I want to continue to work for something worthwhile. Clay has recently piqued my interest in his involvement with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). He's one of 10 national spokesman for the organization, and I can see him roping me into contributing hours and manpower to that in the coming months while I flounder around. But before I do that, I think I'd like to go down to my local VFW and buy a few war heroes some beers. There are a lot of salty old vets out there looking for a young buck like me to bounce some war stories off of, and I realize that I have not paid them the respect they deserve.
So how do I end this? How do I wrap it up? Part of me hopes I find something else in my life interesting enough to write about, but I know I'm only fooling myself. I can only post so many "this weekend was so crazy" stories before people get bored.
I suppose I can only stare at the screen for so long before I realize that this wont type itself.
The last four years for me have been unbelievable. Before I joined the Marines I felt that I had a pretty good grasp on life. I pretty much knew it all. There was life, and there was death. Good and bad. You had honor, and courage and commitment. Virtues of innocence, honesty and charity always trumped the pitfalls of man. The American Dream. Terrorists were real, and so were heroes. The Wisconsin Badgers won Rose Bowls. Prayers were always answered. All you needed were faith, hope and love.
Right? Sometimes. Maybe. Not really. The Marine Corps only taught me 1% of what I learned in the past four years. The other 99% I learned from my family and friends, who were with me every step of the way, who showed me what love really is, what prayer feels like from 5,000 miles away, and what a hug means when you return from war.
I want to thank all of you who have been a part of this. The vast majority of you I will never have the pleasure of meeting, but through this site and through packages and letters and cards, we have gotten to know each other quite well. There are a hundred names I can still bring to mind, names of people who with simple gestures, like a card on Easter made all the hard times good again. I can never repay you all for your kindness or your generosity, but please know that you all hold a special place in my heart. It's a cliche gesture, but if there is ever anything I can do for you, you know how to get a hold of me.
Thank you. Take care, and God Bless.